La Belle Noiseuse (1991)

La Belle Noiseuse (1991)

A sensual, spellbinding masterpiece depicting the creative process and its muse

The Very Best



France, Switzerland
English, French
David Bursztein, Emmanuelle Béart, Jane Birkin
238 min


THIS is the way we should encourage art– not through artificial images generated from stolen work, but through depicting the actual process.

What it's about

After his retirement, famous painter Frenhofer moved to French Provence to live a quiet life with his partner Liz. However, when his art dealer introduces him to young artist Nicholas and his girlfriend Marianne, Frenhofer discovers the muse that inspires him to finish the portrait he has left unfinished– La Belle Noiseuse.

The take

When it comes to work, most apply to a job, take a 9-5 role for some decades, and then retire once enough funds have been acquired, the body gives out, or they reach the statutory age in their respective countries. This path isn’t as straightforward for the artist. La Belle Noiseuse is a portrait of an artist in his later years, only making a return due to an unexpected muse. It is quite lengthy, almost four hours, so it may feel like a daunting task for casual film viewers, as much as it is for the painter, but the way Rivette dedicates the time to the etching, the turn of the page, the brush of the paint upon the paper feels so calming, with the artist and their muse at their most natural. It’s easy to deduce the inevitable connection that forms, but La Belle Noiseuse is much more interested in the creative process, rather than the romantic drama, more interested in exploring the way art endeavors to capture the soul, even when the muse continues to remain elusive.

What stands out

La Belle Noiseuse is so long in part due to how long each sketch is made. Rivette is so interested in the process that it’s come to the point that actual painter Bernard Dufour was casted as Frenhofer’s hands.


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