Cézanne and I
Not just for art nerds and history buffs, Cézanne and I takes an active, non-stuffy look at the relationship between painter Paul Cézanne (Guillaume Gallienne) and writer Emile Zola (Guillaume Canet).
Under the guidance of writer/director Danièle Thompson, solid performances get to the heart of the two French figures and combine with an active camera that captures the gorgeous scenery and period detail to offer little doubt that the production crew has in fact constructed a time machine and transported viewers to the mid/late 1800s.
Portraying the central figures over a 50 year span, the two actors honestly and often painfully capture the truth of friendship among male artists. Similar in many regards and attracted to the same kind of women – if not the exact person herself – the pair notice superiorities and deficiencies in each other and promptly suppress them, building an intense, cross-medium rivalry that’s bound to one day explode.
In the process, the intellectual perks of legendary artists’ names and the content of their work are dropped in to casual conversations without feeling forced. All of these now famous names knew one other, were after professional success and wanted everyone in their circle to attain it, so it’s just in hindsight that their proximity feels the least bit convenient and contrived, when in fact it’s anything but.
Grade: B-plus. Rated R. Starts April 14 at Grail Moviehouse
(Photo: Magnolia Pictures)