« BUCK | Main | Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer »

June 12, 2011

CAMILLE CLAUDEL — CLASSIC FILM PICK

Camille

19th century sculptor Camille Claudel comes to life in co-writer/director Bruno Nuytten's filmic adaptation of her difficult life. This film is aided by Isabelle Adjani's confident portrayal of the gifted sculptor, who was already a fully formed artist when she studied as an apprentice to the legendary sculptor Auguste Rodin (Gérard Depardieu).

Nuytten ("Jean de Florette") brings visual and emotional breadth to the biographical story in the way he utilizes French settings amid seasonal changes, all the while examining the human forms that excite Camille Claudel’s artistic mind.

When Rodin and Claudel position a nude model together for the first time, it arrives as a pure moment of inventive creation. The model (played by Ariane Kah) poses on a turntable that exposes every crease and crevice of her carefully poised body. The effect is urgently erotic, and yet passively resigned to an area of passive exhibitionism.

The viewer experiences a passionately tactile connection to the mediums of clay, stone, and marble that we watch being shaped into stunning works of art. The sounds of hammers hitting chisels, and cloth sanding plaster, lends a rhythmic undercurrent to the drama.

Camilleclaudel

Camille's personal relationship with the peasant, whom she uses as her regular model, provides a physical bearing for who she is as an artist. Her brother Paul (Laurent Grévill) grounds Camille as sculptor appreciated most by the men in her family, but rejected by her mother and sister.

Gérard Depardieu's flawless portrayal of the egotistical Auguste Rodin is crucial to stoking the romantic fire that burns between Rodin and Claudel. He is a cunning manipulator of passions. The couple's unwieldy romance burns out under pressures contributed to as much by Camille's drowning desire to possess him as by Rodin's jealous wife. Mostly though, Rodin is too established in his duties to the art world to allow any woman to fetter his ideals of liberty and entitlement.

Isabelle Adjani

Threads of ancestral, political, social, artistic, economic, and psychological issues weave through the film. To comprehend the impact of Camille Claudel's artistic achievements is to share in a spiraling struggle with insanity that consumes her before our eyes. Isabelle Adjani co-produced the film. Her intimate affinity for the historic female character encompasses a depth of empathy that goes deeper even than what we see on the screen. Adjani’s simultaneous sense of forcefulness and delicacy represents a rare quality of candor. You could call it art.

Camille-claudel-isabelle-adjani

Rated R. 173 mins. (A+) (Five stars — out of five / no halves)


COLE SMITHEYA small request: Help keep Cole Smithey writing reviews, creating video essays, and making podcasts. Click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon, and receive special rewards!

PATREON BUTTON

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Featured Video

SMART NEW MEDIA® Custom Videos

COLE SMITHEY’S MOVIE WEEK

COLE SMITHEY’S CLASSIC CINEMA

Throwback Thursday


Podcast Series