Cinema: Seduction on Canvas

Seduction on Canvas

He strips and contorts her, plies her, woos her, drives her to boredom, exasperation, tears. He is, in last week's favorite phrase, her mentor and tormentor. What the aging artist Frenhofer (Michel Piccoli) does to his young model, Marianne (Emmanuelle Beart), as she poses for his first painting in years, is a disinterested kind of sexual harassment for art's sake. These sittings, a seduction on canvas, fill more than half of Jacques Rivette's four-hour La Belle Noiseuse. The phrase is loosely translated as "the beautiful nut case," but Frenhofer, not Marianne, is the genial lunatic: a man of the world who...

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