Movie Feature by Harriet Robbins
SERAPHINE, a Music Box film written and directed by Martin Provost, takes a refreshing look at the creative process as embodied in a simple housekeeper named Seraphine (Yolande Moreau), who in a creative burst became a forerunner of modern art. Painting was as important to her as eating and drinking. Despite her humble circumstances, she taught herself to paint and kept working in isolation against all odds, turning out canvases that reflected her deep love of nature and the spiritual, creating a world of wonder for all of us.
SERAPHINE is based on a true story. Discovered in Senlis, France by a German collector who was the first Picasso buyer in 1913, Seraphine was employed by him as a cleaning lady. Needless to say, an unusual relationship developed between the sophisticated art dealer and the poor but visionary housekeeper.
In this insightful and absorbing film, Seraphine's struggle to not only keep painting but maintain her fragile sanity catches us up in its sweep and power.
As Martin Provost explained in an interview, "Seraphine was a free woman above all. She lived most of her life alone, chaste, and in a state of great physical and psychological destitution and ended up committed in a mental institution. Her process was purely poetical; insanity was a refuge."
In French with English subtitles, SERAPHINE won seven Cesars (French Academy awards). It's a film to enjoy and admire; don't miss it.