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DANIÈLE THOMPSON · FRANCE · 2016 · 117 mins · PG · French with subtitles
IMDBRotten Tomatoes

“Cézanne et moi” captures the world when art was worth fighting about and had the power to change the world. The “moi” is the novelist Emile Zola; the film chronicles the near-lifelong friendship between two men who grew up in Aix en Provence, became starving artists together in Paris, fought over women and money and artistic principles, and finally met two ironically different fates.

Guillaume Canet delivers a watchful portrayal of Zola, an Italian immigrant. Paul Cézanne (Guillaume Gallienne) detests the bourgeois business world his father wants for him; when Zola moves to Paris, Cézanne arrives with a flourish. Soon the two are drinking with the likes of Renoir, Manet and Pissarro, and embarking on picnics with other artists and bohemian friends.

Toggling between scenes of youth and an acrimonious reunion in 1888, this is an arresting, attractively staged examination of two men determined to blow open the formal languages they’re working in, in Zola’s case to bring tougher realism to the novel. He succeeds, and becomes rich and famous.

Cézanne wanted to dig even deeper, bypassing realism to get to the more abstract essence of things, beyond impressionism. He succeeded as well, but not in time to become a living legend.

Anchored by two superb performances, “Cézanne et moi” is a touching evocation of friendship, brotherly competition and artistic courage at the cusp of a new century. --Washington Post 
“A pungent, demystifying portrait of the rowdy late-19th-century Parisian art world where famous painters and poets mingled and jostled for position at dinner parties and art openings filled with shoptalk, backbiting and intrigue.” New York Times
“For lovers of late 19th century French art, ‘Cézanne et Moi’ has an irresistible backdrop, with appearances by Pissarro, Manet and Renoir.” San Francisco Chronicle
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