Séraphine (2009) - Rotten Tomatoes

Séraphine (2009)



Critic Consensus: 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.

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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 undying passions through painting, and, having only the scantest materials at hand, created paints from elements such as animal blood, oil from church candles, and dirt pulled from the ground. With these crude and raw tools, the nascent, budding artist created tableaux of floral arrangements utterly unlike any seen before. Sadly, those around Séraphine perceived the paintings as coarse and unimpressive -- something of a joke. Her life took a most fantastic turn, then, when Wilhelm Uhde (Ulrich Tukur), a German art critic, turned up in Senlis -- and laid eyes on the young woman's creations for the first time. Yet, despite the success that Uhde brought to Séraphine, a sad future still lay ahead for the young woman -- one accompanied by continued obscurity and emotional isolation. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovimore
Rating: PG
Genre: Art House & International, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Martin Provost, Marc Abdelnour
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 23, 2010
Box Office: $0.6M
Music Box Films - Official Site


Yolande Moreau
as Séraphine Louis, di...
Ulrich Tukur
as Wilhelm Uhde
Anne Bennent
as Anne-Marie Uhde
Geneviève Mnich
as Mme Duphot
Nico Rogner
as Helmut Kolle
Françoise Lebrun
as La mère supérieure
Léna Breban
as Soeur Marguerite
Francis Lacloche
as Le notaire
Corentin Lobet
as L'interne
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Séraphine

Critic Reviews for Séraphine

All Critics (92) | Top Critics (29)

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.

Full Review… | January 29, 2010
Arizona Republic
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | December 17, 2009
Top 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.

Full Review… | December 17, 2009
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | November 27, 2009
Time Out
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | June 15, 2012

Gives testimony to the human spirit.

Full Review… | February 21, 2011
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

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.

Cynthia S.

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.

Mark Hobin

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.

Mark Abell
Mark Abell

Super Reviewer

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