“You’re so good Paul…but sometimes your characters do not express anything “. This replica solemn Emile Zola to Paul Cézanne reveals perfectly the fundamental paradox on which is based the works of CÉZANNE AND ME. On paper it is a project of a beautiful scale : two biopics in one, two great figures of French culture, the revival of the Nineteenth century, the tale of a friendship of a lifetime, loves, and the whole of art history with a big H and a big a in the background ! It was all worth a cast prestigious, Guillaume Gallienne of the comédie française and Guillaume Canet, actor, screenwriter and director that is no more. Unfortunately, for CÉZANNE AND ME, the conclusion is extremely bitter. Danièle Thompson have been great, too great and she misses her film failing to the channel and the fill of the essential : a story.
Impossible to pitcher, CÉZANNE AND ME strays radically on what it is. Far short of its ambition to trace a friendship between two men, two artists, or even to paint a biographical portrait, the film loses from the start in a total lack of scenario (in other words, a plot, a challenge, an interest of any kind). In the program for 1 hour 50, an imbroglio of sequences inextricable between Aix en Provence and Paris, where one loses oneself to the force of trying to count the number of hair that remains to Guillaume Gallienne to locate if we are in the distant past, the past is less distant or the far…
Anyway, as soon as the first half-hour, it is clear that our efforts are in vain because finally the time is of little importance. The prime of youth at the edge of death, the characters of CEZANNE AND I have not changed one iota ; yesterday, the day before yesterday or today… We won ! Danièle Thompson will have declined that one and the same personality trait of Zola and his friend, and repeated over and over the same discussion in the same prerogatives, and that in all the scenes. Thus, the engueulade of 30 years ago is the same as today, the voice a little more chevrotante only.
“The problem of Danièle Thompson in Cézanne and Me seems not to have been able to choose an angle, or, more precisely, not having been able to renounce the others.”
It is, however, entitled to expect from a great historical movie like this, characters, shades, an evolution, a psychological portrait, a bit worked. But here the director has not been able to do, and this impasse is disastrous. The heroes suffer terribly for their monochrome and a lack of dynamics. Result, we do not get attached to anyone and it is dark in the indifference the most complete.
CÉZANNE AND ME seems to have relied on the writing of dialogues which want to be sharp, precise and theatrical. But here again the ambition is excessive and drives the film instead of the save. We don’t understand, we get lost once more in a logorrhée all that is most factitious. The characters do never speak, they declaim, compete and discourent. We are witnessing nearly two hours of digressions undrinkable and surjouées by actors who embrace their roles with passion and an investment that the director will be able to amply acknowledge, but which mix with the air. As brave and talented as they are, players will never be able to compensate for characters that are poorly written, lack of story and direction.
The problem of Danièle Thompson in this film seems not to have been able to choose an angle, or, more precisely, not having been able to renounce the others. She wanted to deal with as a postulate the friendship of two artists, but by excess of zeal (maybe), and ambition (probably), she is scattered and is placed at the side of the essential : the field of psychology and intrigue. The irony of CÉZANNE AND ME is that he enjoys a beautiful production, the sets are stunning, the costumes spectacular, and the light and the image are chiadées and it is very uncomfortable for the viewer to feel the boredom that crushes as it generates a feeling of malaise. There is something revolting to be in the face of so many possibilities, scriptwriting, production conditions are ideal and do not get a result as below what anyone could have imagined.
Émile Zola and Paul Cézanne had them both what to offer biopics exciting, but the characters are too big or project too large for Danièle Thompson, the fate of these two artists seems to be sadly insignificant in CÉZANNE AND ME.
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