×

To Paint Or Make Love

From the basic ingredients of a recently retired meteorologist and his amateur-painter wife plus a blind man and his shapely young spouse, brothers Arnaud and Jean-Marie Larrieu fashion a fanciful tale about the fine line between boredom and unbridled sensuality in "To Paint or Make Love." Name thesps should carry this formal comedy beyond Gaul.

With:
With: Sabine Azema, Daniel Auteuil, Amira Casar, Sergi Lopez, Philippe Katerine, Helene de Saint Pere, Sabine Haudepin, Roger Miremont, Jacques Nolot, Marie-Pierre Chaix, Florence Loiret-Caille, Thiago Teles.

From the basic ingredients of a recently retired meteorologist and his amateur-painter wife plus a blind man and his shapely young spouse, brothers Arnaud and Jean-Marie Larrieu fashion a fanciful tale about the fine line between boredom and unbridled sensuality in “To Paint or Make Love.” But sly narrative also sends up what local auds have seen a million times and what offshore auds tend to think of as the arty building blocks of Europics. Playful venture may rub some viewers the wrong way, but name thesps should carry this formal comedy beyond Gaul.

Set in the shadow of handsome mountain peaks, script offers a superficial story of libidos ratcheted up a notch by perhaps innocent — but possibly insidious — catalysts.

Aside from costume dramas, broad comedies and films addressing serious social problems, French filmmakers whose work is aimed at adult audiences tend to be urban intellectuals who add a country house or an exotic vacation to their characters’ inevitably harried or angst-ridden lives.

Popular on Variety

But the Larrieu brothers, whose work to date has shown people hiking, the mountains and the role of nature in modern life, reverse the pattern. They import presumed city slicker behavior to bourgeois characters whose living rooms are near woods, streams and mountains.

Madeleine (Sabine Azema) runs a thriving firm specializing in refurbishing homes. Her husband, William (Daniel Auteuil), is at loose ends since taking early retirement from his job with the French weather service. Their grown daughter Elise (Florence Loiret-Caille) has won a scholarship to study in Rome.

Madeleine unwinds by driving to a nearby valley to set up her easel and paint the Vercors landscape. From the distance, a blind man smells the paint and turpentine and cuts across a field to speak to whoever’s there. The man is Adam (Sergi Lopez), the village mayor, and when he discovers Madeleine and starts talking to her, he mentions that a nearby house is for sale and he has the key.

Soon, William and Madeleine decide to buy the place, trading their apartment in a nearby city for new sounds, new smells — and new neighbors.

Adam and his wife Eva (Amira Casar) come to dinner at William and Madeleine’s and then reciprocate the invitation. The younger pair and the older pair hit it off, so when Adam and Eva’s home burns to the ground with all their possessions, the newcomers gladly invite them to move in.

Pic portrays the power of fresh enthusiasms and petty aggravations with comic shorthand. Soon, Adam isn’t the only one in the dark or the only character whose senses are on full alert.

Nobody names their protagonists Adam and Eva by accident. Pic’s veneer of unpretentious cordiality cries out to be punctured — and this the brothers do with a wink and a nod to only-in-the-movies behavior.

Seasoned thesps are well cast, and straightforward lensing is openly appreciative of the pastoral setting. Songs, from “Nature Boy” to poetic standards from the French recitative genre, serve as wry counterpoint.

To Paint Or Make Love

France

Production: A Pyramide Distribution release (in France) of a Les Films Pelleas presentation of a Les Films Pelleas, France 2 Cinema, Rhone-Alpes Cinema production with participation of Canal Plus, CNC, Region Rhone-Alpes, Region Midi-Pyrenees, TPS Star. (International sales: Pyramide Intl., Paris.) Produced by Philippe Martin, Geraldine Michelot. Directed, written by Arnaud and Jean-Marie Larrieu.

Crew: Camera (color), Christophe Beaucarne; editor, Annette Dutertre; music, Philippe Katerine; production designer, Brigitte Brassart; costume designer, Laurence Struz; sound (Dolby), Olivier Mauvezin, Beatrice Wick, Stephane Thiebaut; associate producer, David Thion; assistant director, Christophe Jeauffroy; casting, Stephane Batut. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (competing), May 18, 2005. Running time: 98 MIN.

With: With: Sabine Azema, Daniel Auteuil, Amira Casar, Sergi Lopez, Philippe Katerine, Helene de Saint Pere, Sabine Haudepin, Roger Miremont, Jacques Nolot, Marie-Pierre Chaix, Florence Loiret-Caille, Thiago Teles.

More Film

  • Dau

    'Dau' Director Defends Controversial Russian Competition Film: 'It's not Hollywood'

    “Dau. Natasha,” the Russian art project-turned-movie franchise competing at the Berlinale, has triggered headlines in the local and international press over the years due to its epic scale, scenes of graphic violence and anecdotes of an allegedly oppressive work environment for women. Hours before the film’s premiere at a presser on Wednesday, Ilya Khrzhanovsky, who [...]

  • The Trouble With Being Born

    Sandra Wollner on Berlin A.I. Drama 'The Trouble With Being Born'

    At first glance Elli appears to be a normal young girl living with her single father, spending idle afternoons lazing by a sunlit pool. But a disturbing reality is soon revealed: Elli is actually an android whose memories were programmed by the man she lovingly calls “Daddy.” Before long the true nature of their relationship [...]

  • Legendary Entertainment Hires Matthew Erramouspe Chief

    Legendary Entertainment Hires Matthew Erramouspe as Chief Legal Officer

    Legendary Entertainment has appointed veteran sports-media attorney Matthew Erramouspe to the newly developed role of chief legal officer and executive VP. Erramouspe has been co-chair of O’Melveny & Myers’ Entertainment’s Sports and Media practice group. He will report to Legendary’s CEO Joshua Grode and work closely with the heads of Legendary’s business units. “Matthew has been [...]

  • The Roads Not Taken

    'The Roads Not Taken': Film Review

    In 2013, Sally Potter lost her younger brother, artist and musician Nic Potter, to early onset dementia, although the disease is so cruel, one could say that she began losing him a couple years earlier — that he started to disappear on her in 2010 — and that her film “The Roads Not Taken” is [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content