Pathe Intl. has boarded vet Gallic scribe/helmer Daniele Thompson’s “Cezanne et moi,” a 19th-century period drama toppling Guillaume Canet, pictured, and Guillaume Gallienne as two French culture’s legends, the novelist Emile Zola and post-impressionist painter Paul Cezanne.
The ambitious drama chronicles the complex, decade-long friendship between Cezanne, who was born into a wealthy family but struggled to make a living as a painter, and Zola, who came from a poor background but achieved fame and prosperity as a politically-engaged novelist.
Exploring the pair’s fears and ambitions, the movie charts their relationship through the early days in Aix-en-Provence, their arrival in Paris’ absinthe-soaked cultural scene and their diverging professional and sentimental experiences.
Pathe has taken international sales and will start shopping the pic at AFM, where it will unveil the first images of the movie.
“The friendship between Cezanne and Zola makes for amazingly compelling material — two artistic legends who were incredibly close, but also extremely different in their personalities and desires,” said Muriel Sauzay, head of Pathe Intl.
One of France’s hottest helmer-actors, Gallienne broke through with Directors’ Fortnight player “Me, Myself and Mum,” which won five Cesar awards in 2014.
Canet, who is also an actor and a director best known for “Tell No One” and “Blood Ties,” most recently starred in Stephen Frears’ Lance Armstrong drama “The Program.”
“Cezanne and Me,” produced by Albert Koski, just wrapped shooting on location in the Provence region, in Aix-en-Provence and its suburbs, capturing the landscapes that inspired Cezanne’s most well-known paintings, as well as in Paris.
A passion project, the pic marks Thompson’s sixth feature and one of her most ambitious films. Her directorial credits include high-grossing satirical comedies, notably “Avenue Montaigne” with Cecile de France, “Jet Lag” with Juliette Binoche and Jean Reno and “Change of Plans” with Karin Viard and Dany Boon. The three pics were local B.O. hits and traveled to key territories. Thompson has also achieved critical acclaim as a screenwriter with a wide range of films, including the Oscar-nominated “Cousin Cousine,” Patrice Chereau’s “Queen Margot” and “The Mad Adventure of Rabbi Jacob.”
Pathe Intl.’s AFM slate also includes Stephen Frears’ “Florence Foster Jenkins” with Rebecca Ferguson, Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant, Gurinder Chadha’s “Viceroy’s House” with Gillian Anderson and Michael Gambon, as well as Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud’s “Seasons.”