La Belle Noiseuse

1991

La Belle Noiseuse

Critics Consensus

A sensual and hypnotic masterpiece, La Belle Noiseuse luxuriates in its four-hour run time while holding audience attention.

100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 29

84%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 3,803
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La Belle Noiseuse Photos

Movie Info

In 1991, the master French director Jacques Rivette released one of his most acclaimed works- the four-hour La Belle noiseuse. It was a fascinating and unconventional examination of the creative process, about an artist named Edouard Frenhofer (Michel Piccoli) who reaches the age of 60, and finds new inspiration in a young model (Emmanuelle Beart), much to the quiet indignation of his wife Liz (Jane Birkin). Two years later, Rivette was asked to edit the original 240-minute drama down into a feature-length version that would be more palatable for mainstream audiences. The result was Divertimento (its full title La Belle noiseuse - Divertimento). Released to U.S. cinemas in September 1993, it received much less enthusiastic notices from critics, a fair number of whom (see the Roger Ebert and Vincent Canby assessments) implored viewers to stick with the original. Unsurprisingly, the recut version reduces many of the long, ethereally beautiful sequences that show Frenhofer hard at work on his canvas; instead, it places a much greater emphasis on the emotional toll that Frenhofer's artistic obsessions and infidelities take on the women in his life. The movie also features a different framing sequence, and incorporates takes unused in the original cut. In the eyes of many, the alterations basically maimed the picture, and Divertimento - unlike its parent film - soon faded into total obscurity.

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Critic Reviews for La Belle Noiseuse

All Critics (29) | Top Critics (11)

  • La Belle Noiseuse will immerse you in a one-of-a-kind portrait of the artistic process.

    Jun 14, 2018 | Full Review…
  • In its own way this sensual, granular experience is just as pure and obsessive as Rivette's less hospitable masterpieces, and almost as mysterious.

    Nov 28, 2017 | Full Review…
  • It's a lighter film, but by no means slighter, more like the difference between a Henry James short story and an extended performance piece.

    Feb 20, 2008 | Full Review…
    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Rivette's superb sense of rhythm and mise en scene never falters, and the plot has plenty of twists.

    Nov 12, 2007 | Full Review…
  • As impeccably shot as its subject deserves, the film is more accessible than most of Rivette's work, with characteristically playful passing nods to the relationship between life and performance.

    Jan 26, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Hypnotically beautiful.

    Aug 30, 2004 | Rating: 5/5

Audience Reviews for La Belle Noiseuse

  • Jul 28, 2014
    If this was a Hollywood movie, the story most probably would be about the rise and fall of a painter, how his work reflected his personal life, it would bring to light the reasons of why he gave up his profession, and would place the whole creative process that restored his inspiration - depicted here in around 205 minutes - in just 5 minutes, with quick and fadeout editing techniques as an irrelevant part. It would then give a closure of his decision, highlighting the final painting in full detail. Now, I am not diminishing the quality of this hypothetical alternative project. On the contrary, I think that all events in the life of a person, particularly of an artist, are equally important as those events in the life of any other human being. However, if we try to make a historical recollection about fascinating, insightful depictions about the methodical evolution of the creative process in the artist's mind, maybe we would be left blank-minded. <i>La Belle Noiseuse</i> is an essay like no other, but if it is meant to talk deeply at a particular viewers segment, it is that represented by art supporters. Personally, I am an avid fan of all arts, not only cinema, so this meta-art project (which is certainly not the first project of this kind made by Rivette) spoke of so many things that matter to me in art. It is an extraordinary, complete project about the creation of art and its meaning. Any art form represents a human exercise to externalize the content's of oneself's soul through a language that can assign it a perpetual value. That's my favorite definition. Art pieces depend solely on the internal state of the author. Influences execute an extraordinarily important force in this inspiration process, but in the end, an art form is a decision incarnated. Under this definition, Rivette is a true artist. The emphasis on how an idea begins from an event, and this event materializes from scratch, beginning with the trace of a line, is a beautiful event explored in the movie. Maybe after the cellular formation of any living being until its birth, the creation of an art piece is the most wonderful thing to happen in this God's creation. On the other hand, art is subjective, and the toughest juror of an art piece is the creator himself/herself. It makes matters even more complicated when you, as an artist, are currently uncapable of doing at least either one of the following two things: a) to know what you're seeking, and b) to know what are the motives behind your work. Even if you had no motives, then that would be a motive. Still, point a) breaks down into another issue: to know whether if what you are seeking is something you have seen before. The process of mental idealization can be very dangerous, given that your potential masterpiece looks so wonderful in your head, that an attempt to physically replicate that idealization can ultimately lead to frustration... maybe even to the death of the inspiration itself. That is a groundbreaking event, and that is maybe the conflict of the protagonist. Finally, we have what the finished art work means both to the artist and to the inspiration behind it, in case that such inspiration turns out to be a person. Nudism in particular has an impactful effect on me as an art admirer because it is one of the numerous, and yet efficient ways to emotionally break both the body of the model and the perseverance of the artist. Both discover themselves. Both can establish an intangible relationship of almost metaphysical proportions between each other, and also they discover themselves individually. I never thought this movie would be capable of reaching that topic barrier, but it did, against all my expectations, and therefore assuring itself the highest rating accolades. What a wonderful picture, truly. Rivette is a magician, beyond all doubts. He can transform 238 minutes into 140 with no complication. <i>La Belle Noiseuse</i> is both an essay of this creative process and a reflection of Rivette engaging in that process himself. There are always layers in any meta-art project, and they are always interesting to discuss. A marvelous triumph! 97/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • May 09, 2012
    La Belle Nosieuse is fours long, slow moving and mezmerizing. I wish I knew how Jacques Rivette pulls that off. The story of a blocked elderly genius artist Frenhofer (Michelle Piccoli) who is brought back to creative life by a young fiery woman Marianne (Emmanuelle Beart in her second movie) who becomes his model and muse. Marianne is the partner of a much young artist, and their relationship changes for the worse when she commits body and soul to modeling for the old guy. The gorgeous Beart is naked for much of the film, and though she's beyond stunning, somehow it's not as hot as you would imagine, just interesting. PIccoli's loyal wife and former model (Jane Birkin) is no longer inspiring him, so she's devastated yet empathetic, making her the perfect wife for an artist. The film touches on lots of rich emotional ground, about the evolving nature of long relationships, youthful artistic vision vs. autumnal artistic closure, the creative process and its volatility and the toll that art takes on love. Huge long sequences that feel almost 'real time' show the artist sketching in long drawn out shots, with the intense sound of a scratching pen and shots of Beart straining in a series of excruciating poses. These moments are utterly engrossing and take a large bulk of the film's running time, depicting an endlessly complex collaboration between artist and model, Piccoli and Beart are totally committed to their roles and boundlessly interesting throughout. The twists and turns of their relationship are riveting or Rivette-ing. Rivette doesn't even show the final painting to the audience, (though the model and the wife see it, their reactions are unforgettable) and it didn't annoy me! It's almost too sacred to show. This snail's paced film will not appeal to everyone, it lacks the thrills per minute of The Avengers, and is even more slow paced than lugubrious flicks like Melacholia and The Tree of Life. However, if you're into thinking about art and you've got four hours to spare, your patience will be richly rewarded. Noiseuse is one of the crown jewels of the French cinema.
    Josh M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 05, 2012
    An absolutely fascinating look at an artist inspired by beautiful woman to deliver more art when the muse is not quite ready to be as museful as he might like.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 27, 2010
    You're seeing that correctly, this is a 4 hour film. Four hours! In the same time it took two half-pints to cross hazardous terrain on foot and destroy a ring of ultimate power while two armies engaged in a several epic battles during an extended cut, this guy only manages to churn out two measly paintings and a few sketches. Of course that comparison is in jest as the goals of each film is very different. <i>La Belle Noiseuse</i> gives an extended view into one elderly man's creative process as he tries to paint what he thinks will be his masterpiece when inspired by a new muse Marianne. We see Edouard sketch, and sketch, and sketch some more. Extremely long takes often with fixed camera positioning captures an image emerging from the blank page. This could truly be a fascinating record if the artist was Renoir or Francis Bacon, but I am largely unimpressed with his technique. I certainly can't reconcile his precise demands that his model hold a difficult position when his crude darwings exhibit very liltle detail. I would call him an expressionist in that he states that he is trying to capture the essence of his subject, but achieving limited success. Another problem concerns the exaggerated drama in the story. A young artist Nicolas offers his girlfriend Marianne as Edouard's subject. She is disgusted that she wasn't asked first, but when she agrees Nicolas thinks it's out of spite and moans that she must be boinking the guy 40 years her senior. Meanwhile Edouard's wife Liz warns Marianne "be careful or he will ruin you" because of his honesty with a brush. These are some pathetic human beings if their feelings are this fragile, and therfore I found these entanglements which are supposed to play out over a 3-day stay hard to swallow. I did appreciate the scenes of drawing and painting to a point, watching his approach, and especially his interaction with Marianne. This was the real value to me, the relationship between the artist and his model. They talk about inspiration, dedication, sacrifice, and the fleeting mystery of the creative mind. My favorite scene happens when they have both drunk too much wine, and really the only time the overly serious mood is lifted. Marianne is played by Emmanuelle Béart who is one of the most beautiful actresses in film history, and in this role she is completely nude for at least an hour of screen time. I can't think of anyone more daring at baring their body, and studying her form is a providential privilege. Even with the scary length, extremely slow pace, and above criticisms, it did not feel cumbersome until around the 3-hour mark. I'm conflicted about the rating because it provides a worthy experience in several respects, but I have a strong feeling the re-edited and much shorter <i>Divertimento</i> would qualify as a significant improvement and thus the preferable version. If that turns out to be untrue, I may have to recalibrate this one. Endnote: The common English title is "The Beautiful Nuisance" but according to the desription given during the movie about what a "noiseuse" is, I am inclined to translate as "The Beautiful Nutcase" since they say a noiseuse acts crazily with a tendency to be a nuisance. However, I can understand an arthouse distributor wanting to class it up a bit.
    Doctor S Super Reviewer

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