Montparnasse 19 (Jacques Becquer, France,1958)

I saw Montparnasse 19 as a child and never forgot it. Seeing it again now I understand why it is unforgettable: the framing, the lighting, the composition of Gérard Philipe as Modigliani, in medium close-ups, suffering for his art, which no one is interested in, as Lilli Palmer, Anouk Aimee, and other women who love him look on helplessly, is very powerful. I’d forgotten Lino Ventura is also in it. Jacques Becker is such a great director, leaving actors their space and privileging their faces, and in this case that of the greatest romantic actor of his generation. Every frame does indeed seem not so much a painting as a work of art in itself. The Arrow edition is beautiful. It includes an appreciation by Ginette Vincendeau, which I look forward to seeing.


I’ve written previously on a memory of the film vs an encounter with a portrait of Modigliani here.


José Arroyo

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