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Episode #54: La Belle Noiseuse (The Beautiful Troublemaker)

Listen to Episode 54 of the Podcast here while you enjoy the show notes.

SUMMARY - In La Belle Noiseuse, young painter Nicolas and his girlfriend Marianne (played by Emmanuelle Béart) go to visit the famous artist Edouard Frenhofer (played by Michel Piccoli) in his secluded countryside manor. While there, Nicolas convinces Frenhofer to come out of retirement and use Marianne as inspiration for his final masterpiece. He abandoned the painting ten years ago due to the emotional damage it was causing. There’s no telling if Marianne or Frenhofer will be strong enough to see this project to the end.

Screenplay by Pascal Bonitzer, Christine Laurent, and Jacques Rivette; Directed by Jacques Rivette, and premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on May 14, 1991.


For Nikki's birthday week episode, she selected this lesser-known arthouse favorite.

At four hours long, it can be an intimidating subtitled movie to start for many people. We suggest breaking it into two chunks, since there is a built-in intermission.

What was most striking to us was how you don't really feel those four hours. There's a surprising amount of tension on the screen.

Most of that comes from the interplay between the model and the artist, the give and take and resistance from both sides that Frenhofer is relying on.

Of course, fabulous acting is incredibly important in keeping this going.

We also loved watching the artist create on the spot, and in real time. You get to see the unusual process of starting with nothing

And then turning it into this.

And seeing him move to other mediums and bigger canvases as the story moves on.

There is a lot of subtext within the small cast, but we thought the parts with Nicholas' sister didn't necessarily need to be there.

We won't say a lot on this blog post as it's worth listening to the episode and watching the movie for most of our thoughts. Suffice to say, a 4 hour movie has a decent amount to discuss.

Awards Talk: This was a Cannes Palme d’Or nominee, and it won the Grand Prize of the Jury as well as the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury - Special Mention. Also at the Cesar Awards, it was nominated for a few categories, but did not win: Best Film, Best Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress, and Director.


This week our true crime segment is also doubling as a historical event segment.

On this day in 1991, Winnie Mandela was sentenced to 6 years in prison for the kidnapping of four young kids and the death of one. We outline some of the details in broad strokes as well as the subsequent release on appeal.

Also, this day saw the death of Jian Qing aka Madame Mao of China

Moving on to TV, here is what you may have been watching

Since we always try to talk about shows that are forgotten to time, we have two more to discuss today:


Shannon’s Deal

For our music segment, we'll once again focus on the Billboard 100 Bottom 5 as of 5/18/1991

100. Get Here - Oleta James

99. How to Dance - Bingo Boys featuring Princessa

98. The Star Spangled Banner - Whitney Houston - Our "Whitney Houston Watch" finds her near the bottom this week.

97. Exclusivity - Damian Dame

96. That’s Why - The Party - a personal favorite of Nikki's. The perfect way to close out her birthday week episode.


Nikki 1-5 star scale - 5 out of 5

Jon 0-4 star scale - 3 1/2 out of 4

Would you watch it again? - The length didn't bother us at all and we would love the opportunity to see this in a theater. There is a two-hour version that was created in 1993 called "Divertimento" that approaches the edit from Marianne's perspective and we're curious to know how that compares in the meantime.

If you want to watch La Belle Noiseuse, as of this recording in March 2022, it’s available on Kanopy, Tubi, Digital Rental, VHS, DVD. Check your local listings.


You can listen to us on all your major podcasting platforms and please consider rating, subscribing, and sharing with your friends.

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Join us next time for Lucy & Desi: Before the Laughter available on VHS, DVD


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