A creatively stifled artist in Nazi-occupied France, aging sculpter Marc Cros (Rochefort) finds his passion rekindled by the arrival of a new muse, Mercè (Folch), a Spanish refugee. Needless to say, his wife (Cardinale) doesn't share his new enthusiasm.
Scripted with insight and sensitivity by Fernando Trueba and Jean-Claude Carrière, this mournful exploration of the toll taken by time and conflict turns to Matisse and Picasso for its story about the impact a Spanish Civil War fugitive has on a reclusive 80 year-old sculptor. However, while Aida Folch inspires Jean Rochefort, with the connivance of his anxious wife Claudia Cardinale, her commitment to the anti-fascist cause is stronger than her self-preservation. Beautifully photographed by Daniel Vilar, this is an impeccably played gem, whose ideas are as potent as its imagery.
Shot in magisterial black-and-white, veteran director Trueba's drama is a welcome return from the Belle Epoque man.
Reviewed by David Parkinson