|Bonnard, Pierre et Marthe
Martin Provost's film Bonnard, Pierre et Marthe is an artistic revelation that delves into the tumultuous love affair between Pierre Bonnard and his muse, Marthe. While Bonnard's contributions to Post-Impressionist art may not have been recognized worldwide, this film skilfully brings his life to light, particularly in the streets of Paris where he meets Marthe, played by Cécile de France.
Vincent Macaigne plays Bonnard, a revolutionary painter who, despite his important role on the French art scene, remains somewhat in the shadows internationally. Provost, known for his deft exploration of the personal lives of under-appreciated French artists, weaves a tale that finds its natural place at the Cannes Film Festival, emphasizing the importance of imitating life through art and vice versa.
The heart of the film lies in the passionate, if tumultuous, relationship between Bonnard and Marthe. Their chance meeting on a Paris street sets the stage for a whirlwind romance, but it becomes clear that Marthe feels out of place in Pierre's bohemian world. The story takes the audience from the squalor of a Parisian garret to the discovery of a spacious house in the suburbs, a sanctuary that offers both light for Pierre's work and intimacy for Marthe.
Cécile de France skilfully embodies Marthe's journey, first flattered by her entry into the art world, then grappling with society's judgments and her own artistic aspirations. The arrival of Renée, played by Stacy Martin, adds a layer of complexity to their relationship, leading to a decisive turning point when Marthe discovers her own artistic voice.
Martin Provost's narrative prowess shines when it comes to capturing the subtleties of Bonnard and Marthe's relationship. The film traverses the different phases of their lives, deftly handling the complexities that arise when love intersects with art and society's expectations. The supporting cast, including Anouk Grinberg as Misia, contributes to the richness of the story.
The film's visual appeal is remarkable, with scenes moving from the cramped confines of a Paris studio to the idyllic surroundings of their suburban home. The cinematography captures the essence of Bonnard's art, offering viewers a glimpse into the inspiration behind his creations.
While Bonnard, Pierre et Marthe is not a narrative innovation, its strength lies in the emotional resonance it evokes. Provost's underlying message is that, for artists, love is paramount, and that the enduring importance of their work lies in reflecting that love. Despite the familiarity of the theme, the film is a finely crafted exploration of the intertwined nature of life and art, reminding audiences that a well-told story, like love, should never be taken for granted.
Bonnard, Pierre and Marthe
Written and directed byMartin Provost
Produced by François Kraus, Denis Pineau-Valencienne
Starring Vincent Macaigne Cécile de France
Cinematography : Guillaume Schiffman
Edited by Tina Baz
Music by Michael Galasso
Production company : Les Films du Kiosque
Distributed by Memento Distribution (France)
Release dates : 21 May 2023 (Cannes), 10 January 2024 (France)
Running time : 122 minutes
Seen on January 12, 2024 at UGC Ciné-cité Les Halles (Paris, France)