26 July 2013 | filmophile-1
A Very Effective Period Piece
This was shown today as part of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts' annual French Film Festival. Having been enamored of Morisot's paintings for many years, I welcomed the opportunity given by this film to know more about, and see Morisot in, her life. While the larger facts seemed accurate, i believe the dialogue and most plot points are imagined. That was fine with me, because I wasn't seeking those kinds of details.
In the end, the most valuable thing I took away from the film was the feeling of that late 19th c. period. The dress, certainly, and the interiors, village streets, and countryside, but also the sounds, and most importantly, the light. For the first time, I was able to see the art in context .The film gave me the feeling that I was immersed in that time and that I could now visualize and sympathize with the world in which these paintings were created. As might be expected from a female director, the story focuses on the many types of prisons endured by women of the time even as Morisot had the good fortune of wealthy parents who encouraged her independent thoughts and spirit.
The film's weakness , for me, is that it focused way too much on the (speculative) sexual attraction between Morisot and Manet and not enough on the importance of their work in the context of art history. The latter is too softly touched upon, such that when Morisot achieves perhaps her greatest honor, that of being invited to be part of the rebel 'Impressionists' , you haven't been prepared enough to understand how that achievement was so monumental. But as an all-encompassing period piece and portrait of a most serious and complex artist, Berthe Morisot is well worth your time.