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Séraphine (2008)

tomatometer

89

Average Rating: 7.5/10
Reviews Counted: 93
Fresh: 83 | Rotten: 10

Seraphine is a well-crafted French film that effectively captures one woman's experience with art, religion, and mental illness, and features a brilliant performance from Yolande Moreau.

100

Average Rating: 8/10
Critic Reviews: 29
Fresh: 29 | Rotten: 0

Seraphine is a well-crafted French film that effectively captures one woman's experience with art, religion, and mental illness, and features a brilliant performance from Yolande Moreau.

audience

80

liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 15,243

My Rating

Movie Info

Belgian actress Yolande Moreau headlines this biopic, starring as a little-known but uncommonly brilliant painter. Frenchwoman Séraphine Louis (Moreau), aka Séraphine de Senlis, lived from 1864 to 1942. Though ostensibly a shepherdess and housekeeper whose chief duties involved cooking, cleaning, and ironing, in her off-hours Séraphine joyously turned to natural elements of the outdoor world, with which she felt a tremendous degree of emotional and spiritual communion. Séraphine channeled these

Mar 23, 2010

$0.6M

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All Critics (93) | Top Critics (29) | Fresh (83) | Rotten (10) | DVD (2)

What makes this slow, intense film so compelling is its persuasive creation of complex characters: You scarcely believe Moreau is an actor and that the film isn't, on some level, archival footage of the real painter.

January 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A naive, between-the-wars French painter is brought to vivid life in the satisfying fact-inspired drama Seraphine.

December 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Provost and cowriter Marc Abdelnour explore the mutable boundaries between spirituality, naivete, genius, and madness, showing how the two outsiders and polar opposites cultivated a mutual understanding.

December 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This utterly beguiling biopic about a cleaning lady with the artistic gifts of a Van Gogh is just a bit special.

November 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Yolande Moreau plays the industrious but touched washerwoman-turned-painter Séraphine de Senlis with an open-faced conviction that is almost unnerving in its intensity.

October 7, 2009 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Seraphine is rare in its sympathetic focus on a laborer, yet refined in its execution.

August 19, 2009 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Provost's film has few equals in depicting the dangerous territory between artistic inspiration and madness.

June 15, 2012 Full Review Source: Filmwell

Gives testimony to the human spirit.

February 21, 2011 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Thoughtful as it is, the movie lacks the poetry or point of view to see its idea through with force.

September 10, 2010 Full Review Source: The Stranger (Seattle, WA)

Engrossing, well-shot bio-pic ... which won seven Cesars, including Best Picture, from the French Academy in 2008, has a gorgeous antique look and a surfeit of empathy. A lovely, lingering film.

April 2, 2010 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

It's a plodding film in its storytelling, but with a sensitive attitude to its subject. In its best moments, it simply wonders at the rapturous state in which this devout Christian creates her art.

December 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Sunday Times (UK)
Sunday Times (UK)

Séraphine is a deceptively subtle tale.

December 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Guardian [UK]
Guardian [UK]

It's like reading the introductory essay in an exhibition catalogue, except that it takes two hours. Personally, I couldn't stop thinking of Susan Boyle on Britain's Got Talent.

December 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Independent on Sunday
Independent on Sunday

This biopic, which swept the board at the Césaires, is somewhat over-inclined to reverence and simplification; but it is also, some of the time, rewarding and touching.

November 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Independent
Independent

This true story dragged out for so long that I ceased to care.

November 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Sun Online
Sun Online

Séraphine doesn't mess with the formula but the script allows plenty of awkward details to remain and we're allowed to decide for ourselves if fame was a godsend for her.

November 27, 2009 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

Made with a remarkable attention to detail that makes the characters and period spring vividly to life

November 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Shadows on the Wall
Shadows on the Wall

Superb central performance in this original take on the art biopic.

November 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Depends on your levels of Christmas spirit. Nativity either glorifies the charming amateurishness of the British school play or celebrates the slapdash incompetence of the British film industry.

November 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Film4 | Comments (3)
Film4

A classy drama and a sympathetic portrait of two outsiders and the vibrant, unsettling work that binds them.

November 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Times [UK]
Times [UK]

A measured, soulful and tactile work; a film with gouache beneath its fingernails.

November 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Guardian [UK]
Guardian [UK]

A little long, but quietly rewarding.

November 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

Audience Reviews for Séraphine

This film is decent, to say the most. To call it a masterpiece is too much... This biographical story revolves around a poor cleaner who turns out to have amazing artistic talent. It is the typical French tragedy, done with typical French cinematography. I never liked the character Seraphine much, although from time to time I sympathized with her. Her acting was unique. It was as if she was taken straight from a poor country into the studio, because there is NOTHING about her that resembles an actress, or a star. But, all in all, the movie was well done.
January 29, 2011
itsjustme2004

Super Reviewer

Period drama uses the "tortured genius" blueprint to tell the story of Séraphine Louis, a mentally disturbed housekeeper, with a secret passion to paint. A self-taught outsider to the art world, her works were highlighted by intricately ornate floral arrangements. Sadly, she is such a profoundly quiet, withdrawn woman, her personality fails to engage as a character. It's difficult to care for this dreary woman. Biography also fails to shed light on what made this woman tick. She loves to paint, but no insight concerning why. She is plagued by mental illness, but no explanation as to what she suffers from or if it can be cured. It's clear the encouragement of German art collector Wilhelm Uhde lifted her spirits immeasurably and helped her to become psychologically stable for a time. This makes the subsequent actions of those around her, a thoroughly exasperating experience. Nice cinematography, but the glacial pacing is sleep inducing.
July 25, 2010
hobster1

Super Reviewer

An excellent bio-pic of the primitive artist, Seraphine de Senlis (the fabulous Yolande Moreau), who heard voices that told her to paint the most intricate, beautiful paintings taken from nature. She came to the attention of an art critic and collector, Wilhelm Unde (Ulrich Tukur) who eventually championed her work in France. The strength of Ms Moreau's performance is what made this film for this viewer. She is phenomenal, capturing the single-minded purpose with which she carried out her duties, her naïvetà (C), her devious nature, and her incredible talent as an artist. Everyone else merely inhabits the frame. Ms Moreau commands it.
April 1, 2011
Mark Abell

Super Reviewer

Sometimes art comes from the most unexpected places, and that is especially true of Seraphine Louis(Yolande Moreau) who in 1914 takes all sorts of odd jobs cleaning to support her painting which she was told to do by a higher power while at a convent. At the same time, she is two months behind on her rent. But that's not important when she is doing what she loves and can be outside where she can feel the ground beneath her bare feet in the countryside.

One of the houses she cleans is for Madame Duphot(Genevieve Mnich) which she is renting out to Wilhelm Uhde(Ulrich Tukur) and his sister Anne-Marie(Anne Bennent). Wilhelm is an influential art critic from the city who was the first one to bring Picasso to the public's attention. So, while the film moves in leisurely fashion, the world of 1914 is not, as a war on the horizon will change everything as realism is being replaced by modernism and beyond in the art world.(But the world is not changing quickly enough as Wilhelm tells Seraphine at one point that he will not marry a woman.) All of which is captured with nuance in this endearing film.
February 26, 2011
Harlequin68
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Seraphine (UK)
  • Seraphine (CA)
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