Modigliani

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Modigliani is a 2004 semi-biographical film of the Jewish Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani.

Writer-director Mick Davis’ ambitious feature attempts to do for two titans of 20th-century European painting, Pablo Picasso and Amedeo Modigliani, what AMADEUS (1984) did for Mozart and Salieri, except that the bitter rivals battle with brushes instead of  batons.

Paris, 1919: After five dark years of war, the City of Lights is once again electrified by a vibrant vie de boheme. In a crowded Montparnasse café, Diego Rivera (Dan Astilean) sketches on the bare back of a topless trollop, starving artists sketch for their supper and Pablo Picasso (Omid Djalili) does indeed pay for dinner by doodling on a napkin. But he refuses to sign it: “I’m buying dinner, not the restaurant,” the arrogant artist superstar tells the maitre d’.

But the most flamboyant of all is struggling Italian expatriate painter Amedeo “Modi” Modigliani (Andy Garcia), who enters the restaurant tossing roses to the patrons and insults at his far more successful rival, Picasso. Meanwhile, Modi’s long-suffering mistress, Jeanne Hebuterne (Elsa Zylberstein, who looks extraordinarily like a Modigliani portrait come to life) waits outside with the infant her lover refuses to see.

Knowing he can’t support the child, Modi does what he does best: He runs away. Flashbacks reveal that Modi grew up the son of a bankrupt Jewish family in Livorno, Italy, while Jeanne was raise by a deeply anti-Semitic, bourgeois French father (Jim Carter), who’s now threatening to have her baby taken away.

Hoping to bolster Modi’s career and fatten the family coffers, Jeanne urges him to enter an upcoming art competition, even turning to Picasso for help. But however bitter their rivalry, Modi’s real nemesis isn’t the Spanish painter; it’s the childhood tuberculosis still lurking in his lungs. Modi’s doctor (Ruza Madarevic) warns that if he doesn’t lay off the hashish and alcohol, Modi will be dead within the year (Ken Fox).

Modigliani signs up for the competition in a drunken and drug-induced tirade. Picasso follows suit and all of Paris is aflutter with excitement at who will win. With the balance of his relationship with Jeanne on the line, Modigliani tackles this work with the hopes of creating a masterpiece, and knows that all the artists of Paris are doing the same. Once completed he calls his dearest friend to take the painting to the competition and to make sure no one touches it. While his friend is taking the painting, Modigliani is at City Hall waiting for him to get legally married with Jeanne. After being the last person to leave, he decides to celebrate with a one drink. Unfortunately his drinking habit made him drink a couple more than expected. The competition was going to start at eight o’clock, and when he realizes he is late he leaves without paying. Two guys that work for the bar follow him and assault him, once they found no money they left him in floor have dead.

He wasn’t able to celebrate his victory, but when he arrived home Jeanne took care of him, but then his artist friends came and took him to the hospital.  He dies later on and Jeanne commits suicide.


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