Portrait of the Artist

(Le Dos rouge)
(France, 2015, 127 mins, DCP)
Director:
CAST Bertrand Bonello, Jeanne Balibar, Géraldine Pailhas, Joana Preiss, Pascal Greggory, Sigrid Bouaziz
PROD Vincent Wang, Cédric Walter, Antoine Barraud
SCR Antoine Barraud
SCR Antoine Parouty
ED Cathérine Libert, Frédéric Piet
PROD DES Antoine Barraud
MUS Bertrand Bonello
PROD CO House on Fire / Centre Pompidou / Anna Sanders Films

Showtimes

A filmmaker (played by Saint Laurent and House of Tolerance director Bertrand Bonello) in search of a hauntingly strange image to serve as the focus of his next film forms the backbone of Antoine Barraud’s fascinating mélange, which is one part drama, one part art history lesson and one part homage to past cinematic masters.

"Antoine Barraud’s spellbinding Portrait of the Artist (an inexplicably banal re-titling of the more evocative Le dos rouge—“The Red Back,” a reference to the psychosomatic rash spreading over the protagonist’s torso)… concerns the labyrinthine quest of an auteur named Bertrand… to find the artwork that best exemplifies the concept of the ’monstrous,’ the subject of his next movie. Guiding the filmmaker on his monomaniacal quest through the galleries of, to name just a few institutions visited, the Museum of the History of Medicine and the Musée Gustave Moreau is Célia, a gnomic art historian who is incarnated in some scenes by Jeanne Balibar and in others by Géraldine Pailhas. The tactic of having two actresses inhabit the same role clearly nods to Luis Buñuel’s That Obscure Object of Desire (1977), which deploys a similar conceit; other cinephilic salutes include a film-within-the-film re-imagining of Vertigo. These tributes, rather than appearing slavishly derivative, instead add to Portrait’s scene-by-scene unpredictability and sharpen its absorbing ideas about images, both moving and still…"—Melissa Anderson, ArtForum

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