La Belle Noiseuse

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La Belle Noiseuse
Belle noiseuse.jpg
French theatrical release poster
Directed byJacques Rivette
Written byPascal Bonitzer
Christine Laurent
Jacques Rivette
Based onLe Chef-d'œuvre inconnu
by Honoré de Balzac
StarringMichel Piccoli
Jane Birkin
Emmanuelle Béart
Marianne Denicourt
Music byIgor Stravinsky
CinematographyWilliam Lubtchansky
Edited byNicole Lubtchansky
Pierre Grise Productions
Release date
  • 14 May 1991 (1991-05-14) (Cannes)
  • 4 September 1991 (1991-09-04) (France)
Running time
237 minutes
LanguageFrench / English

La Belle Noiseuse is a 1991 French drama film directed by Jacques Rivette and starring Michel Piccoli, Jane Birkin, and Emmanuelle Béart. Its title (pronounced [la bɛl nwa.zøz]) means "The Beautiful (female) Troublemaker". The film is loosely adapted from the short story "Le Chef-d'œuvre inconnu" (The Unknown Masterpiece) by Honoré de Balzac and also includes elements from the short stories "The Liar" and "The Figure in the Carpet", and the novella The Aspern Papers by Henry James.[1]


In the south of France at the Chateau d’Assas, Nicholas and Marianne go to visit the famous aged painter Frenhofer. Nicholas is a young painter seeking to meet a master. Frenhofer has however been inactive for years. After some initial exchanges, the conversation begins to die down when Nicholas suggests that Frenhofer use Marianne as a new model to help reinspire him. He decides to take another chance at finishing a painting he had long ago abandoned while using his wife as his model.

Marianne is at first somewhat reluctant to become a model for him. Frenhofer is not much better in warming up to his new model. He makes various pen and ink drawings of her with washes, which begin to reinvorate his artistic imagination, and he soon gets his model to pose nude for him. Their relationship becomes both more fractious and more intimate. In the end, Frenhofer finishes his painting.



The film won the Grand Prix at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival.[2]

The film had a good critical reception, and occasioned much comment on Béart's extensive onscreen nudity and director Rivette's characteristic use of a long running time (in this case, roughly four hours).

Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert added the film to his Great Movies collection in April 2009.[3]

The film holds an approval rating of 100% on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes based on 29 reviews, with a weighted average of 8.08/10. The site's consensus reads: "A sensual and hypnotic masterpiece, La Belle Noiseuse luxuriates in its four-hour run time while holding audience attention".[4]

Alternative version[edit]

Rivette used alternative takes from the film and made changes in the scene order to produce a shorter, 125-minute version, La Belle Noiseuse: Divertimento, for television. It was also released theatrically in some countries.


  1. ^ "Entretien Jacques Rivette - L'art secret". Les Inrocks (in French). 19 March 2007. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: La Belle Noiseuse". Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  3. ^ "La Belle Noiseuse (1991)". Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  4. ^ "La Belle Noiseuse (1991)". Retrieved 21 April 2020 – via

Further reading[edit]

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