Winner of Ceasars, French Oscar, Seraphine film is about the naïve French Painter Seraphine Louis, whose work as an artist was brought to the forefront after World War I.
Having won seven Ceasars, an Oscar equivalent in France, Seraphine is about the naïve French Painter Seraphine Louis, whose work as an artist was brought to the forefront after World War I. Martin Provost, as the director of the film, has done a brilliant job of rendering to life the story of an eccentric but immensely talented artist, whose extreme poverty do not deter her from her passion to paint. Provost has brought alive the period in which the story takes place, keeping a sharp eye on detail and bringing forth a film that surpasses every expectation. The acting is exceptional, adding to its list of achievements, with Yolande Moreau who portrays Seraphine, giving a performance par excellence.
Uneducated and extremely poor, Seraphine works as a cleaning woman and paints whenever she gets some spare time from her housekeeping chores. Her pathetic clothes show how poor she is and her untidily turned up hair tell us how hard the woman works cleaning and scrubbing for her masters. She has no money to buy paints for her canvas, but that does not deter her from making her own concoctioned paints. We see her collecting soil, pig’s blood from the butcher’s, leftover wax deposits from the church lamps, flowers and leaves, pounding and mixing them to create paints that she can use for her canvas. She has no idea or even thoughts that her paintings could win her recognition.
Her work is only discovered when Wilhelm Uhde (Ulrich Tukur), a German art collector and gallery owner procures one of her paintings. Wilhelm Uhde is visiting Paris and has rented a place in town and Seraphine keeps house for him. When he discovers this painting a few days ago, he insists on seeing the rest of her work and he is totally amazed by what he sees. He decides that Seraphine’s work needs to be displayed to the world, but before anything can happen, the World War breaks and Wilhelm is forced to flee France. He however returns after more than a decade and immediately searches for Seraphine. When he finds her, he sees that Seraphine has developed even further as an artist and he arranges for her work to be exhibited.
Can the sudden fame go lightly for Seraphine who has never known any praise or applause? The people accept her art and she gets recognition for it. Seraphine continues to paint as wildly as ever, but she is unable to take in the success and disastrously lapses into depression. Her mental stability seems to fall apart little by little and she slowly sinks into the dark realms of dementia. The whole film is so overpowering and the intensity of Seraphine’s character is so great that the film can be considered one of the best of its kind having been produced in a while. Although the movie seems to drag along, there is so much emotion in the scenes that touch you to the core that sitting out two hours of the film does not seem to take the toll on you.
Martin Provost with his direction and Yolande Moreau with her acting have together created a magic, making a memorable film that will stay in our minds for a long time to come. We are shown the world through the eyes of an artist and then sorrowfully how fame strikes that beautiful mind driving it into the realms of insanity.