Ugh. First dud of the UK Jewish Film Festival.
The opening scene of the movie is of a young woman trying to drown herself in a tin tub. She introduces herself as the narrator, and she addresses Modigliani in second person. She is Jeanne Hebuterne. She was an artist and a painter, and Modigliani knocked her up as a teenager, getting her disowned by her conservative religious family, and she died committing suicide while unwed and pregnant with her second child, two days after his death. So this movie that is titled Modigliani, which is about Modigliani, uses the suicide of a 21-year-old young woman as a dramatic attention-grabber for its documentary about this man. This got my back up immediately.
I like art and I like documentaries about artists, but every time I hear the world ‘genius’ used, it just sets my teeth on edge. Genius is the early 20th century art equivalent of bro. It usually means you fuck teenagers, but are a great laugh when drunk. It’s like a get-out clause which wallpapers over a lot of human damage, usually harm to women.
Modigliani is no different. What you think of his art aside, his story’s really not that interesting. He wanted to be an artist and he became an artist. There’s not a whole more to it that isn’t just name-dropping. He got TB as a kid, and it eventually killed him at 35. In between times he drank, womanised, and was broke. There, I just saved you 90 minutes.
Maverick Modigliani fills up the lack of actual events with detailed analysis of artistic influences, and what his contribution was within larger artistic movements. Again, if it’s done well, I can find that interesting, but if it’s not, it just drags. Plus the discussion around Primativism was just clang-clang with that incredibly problematic subject.
Honestly don’t know what else to add, because I honestly don’t feel like there’s a lot to address. Passable as a documentary, if you ignore everything other than the intellectual fapping over this dude.