Surviving Picasso

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +2 1/2

Content: -2

Renowned artist Pablo Picasso is at the heart of this drama, but it's not always his story that is told. The spotlight falls often on Francoise Gilot (Natascha McElhone), one of the many women in Picasso's life. He meets Gilot, an aspiring artist herself, at a Paris bistro in 1943, beginning a 10-year relationship that produces two children. Picasso (Anthony Hopkins) apparently made a habit of using people who were magnetically drawn by his talent. Gilot manages to enter his universe and, as the title suggests, emerges relatively unscarred by the experience. We see other Picasso women who weren't so fortunate. First wife Olga (Jane Lapotaire), a ballerina turned bitter old woman, and mistress Dora Maar (Julianne Moore) both exhibit signs of insanity. Marie-Therese Walter (Susannah Harker), mother of Picasso's first daughter, must be satisfied with periodic visits and the knowledge that only she is allowed to cut his hair and nails. Later Picasso replaces Gilot with Jacqueline Roque (Diane Venora), content to be his lover and servant. The film has moments of brilliance, particularly Hopkins' flamboyant portrayal of Picasso and McElhone's strong film debut. But SURVIVING PICASSO seems too emotionally detached from its subjects. Because we never comprehend the passions of these characters, their story isn't particularly interesting. And it shows us that Picasso was a lousy companion but only hints at what made him a great artist.

Even with its emphasis on Picasso's amorous pursuits, the film is relatively free of sexual content. He makes suggestive remarks to Gilot and boldly kisses her, but she offers no resistance. A willing participant in this game of love, she makes an even bolder move. Picasso is showing her a room where she might stay, and turns around to discover Gilot standing totally naked. Offensive language is limited to a few crude words and obscenities. When Gilot goes against her father's wishes and decides to be an artist and not a lawyer, he beats her cruelly. Two of Picasso's women get in a comical wrestling match for his affections while the bemused artist continues painting. Surprisingly subdued given the nature of its story and Picasso's lecherous character, SURVIVING PICASSO cannot be endorsed because of its scene of full frontal female nudity and obscenities.

Preview Reviewer: Mark Perry
Warner Bros., 4000 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA 91522

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Few (4) times Mild 3, Moderate 1

Obscene Language: Few (3) times (f-word 2, s-word 1)

Profanity: Once Exclamatory 1 (My God)

Violence: Few times Mild and Moderate (woman beaten by father, two women tussle, woman slaps man, owl attacks cat)

Sex: None

Nudity: One time (full female frontal nudity); Near nudity with low-cut dress; nude paintings

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Man makes suggestive remarks to woman; woman disrobes for man

Drugs: Smoking, alcohol drinking

Other: Gambling

Running Time:
Intended Audience: Teens and Adults

Click HERE for a PRINTER-FRIENDLY version of this review.