Modigliani (2004)

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Released 16-Aug-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Making Of
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Machuca, Look Both Ways, The Miracle Of Bern, Gerry
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 120
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Mick Davis
Madman Entertainment
Starring Andy Garcia
Elsa Zylberstein
Omid Djalili
Hippolyte Girardot
Eva Herzigova
Udo Kier
Susie Amy
Peter Capaldi
Louis Hilyer
Stevan Rimkus
Dan Astileanu
George Ivascu
Michelle Newell
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Guy Farley

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   Amedeo Modigliani is one of the enduring figures in 20th Century art. His style, which was both modern yet classical, has found continuing appreciation amongst art-lovers worldwide. But during his life he found little success and the film Modigliani is about his demons and not his glory. It is also the story of his tragic love affair with Jean Hebuterne

    Modigliani was not only an obsessed painter and sculptor, he was also intense in every other aspect of his life. He drank to excess, took drugs whenever available and engaged in a series of tempestuous relationships. His health ruined by years of abuse, he died young and without success.

    Modigliani, the film, centres on his life in Paris after the First World War. Rather than simply depict his life (which some would say is interesting enough in itself) the filmmakers choose to focus on a barely existent feud between Modigliani and Picasso and a non-existent climactic art-show which sees the major characters vie off for a prize purse. I imagine that director and scriptwriter Mike Davis wanted to get to the heart of the man and used these devices towards that end, but anyone wanting a by-the-numbers account of Modigliani's life should perhaps buy a biography.

    For those reading this and thinking: "What did he paint?", below is just one of many pictures he painted of Hubeterne, showing his distinctive "long faced" look:

    Andy Garcia plays Modigliani as the passionate Italian drunk, both charming and indifferent. The lovely Elza Zylberstein, recently seen in La Petite Jerusalem plays Hubeterne, his long-suffering girlfriend. English actor Omid Djalili is the priggish Picasso who admires Modigliani and wants to help him succeed, but at the same time can't help tormenting him; such as when (apparently this really happened) he bought one of Modigliani's paintings and then announced casually that he had painted over it!

    As with all biopics Mick Davis faced the problem of making a workable story about the life of Modigliani, a person whose life it could be said had many dramas but no dramatic arc. Whilst the rivalry is fun and the movie has some excellent scenes you can't help thinking that some more time spent around the ideas table might have yielded a better script. The film is book-ended by a direct to camera monologue from Hubeterne who asks the viewer if they have ever loved so deeply that they would die for love. Whilst the answer on her part is a thudding "yes" the film doesn't really touch on why their love was so tragically profound.

    The film had numerous producers and features an international cast. The effect is somewhat disconcerting as no one is really sure what accent they should be using. The performances do vary from the excellent to the merely serviceable.

    Ultimately, Modigliani falls between the two stools of respectful biography, like Pollock, and "plays fast and loose with the truth entertainment" , like Amadeus. Garcia clearly relishes his role, even if he is a 48 year old playing the 35 year old Modigliani! Anyone really keen on Modigliani should look elsewhere and drama lovers may find the story a bit unsatisfying.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


   Modigliani comes to DVD in a 1.78:1 transfer. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The movie was shot on 35mm film in Hungary to simulate Paris of the early 20th century. The look of the film is quite impressive. There is quite a wide colour palette and the film occasionally utilizes colour to great potential, in particular in the scene where Modigliani and Picasso travel through the countryside to visit the ageing Renoir and in the brief scene in Nice.

    There is a nice sharpness to the image, such as where Modigliani and Jean dance in silhouette in the street at 24.30. For the most part, however, the filmmaker wished to emphasise the squalor of Modigliani's surroundings and dirty browns dominate.

    There are no defects in the quality of the transfer. There is no grain and the flesh tones are realistic.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The sound for Modigliani is English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s) and English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s). The dialogue is rendered clearly, though the international cast includes those speaking in accents and "those with accents speaking in other accents" which can sometimes strain the listener's comprehension. Otherwise, audio sync is not a problem.

    The soundtrack is modern and acts as an effective counterpoint to the action.

    The surrounds are rarely used. There are no subtitles.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Modigliani contains a number of extras which in combined total are of some length but do not have much weight. What would have been nice is a slide show of some of the works, not just by Modigliani, but also the other painters featured in the film.

Main Menu Audio

    This is a nice screen of Modigliani and Hubeterne presented to look as if it has been painted, backed by some of the moving music from the film.

Featurette-Making Of

    This is a short feature which includes interviews with the director and his key cast members. The interviews are fairly inconsequential as each actor tells what attracted them to the role. After having waded through countless of these types of extras it would be nice if one day an actor was honest enough to say that as jobbing actors they take whatever comes along!

Interviews-Cast & Crew

    There are also a separate series of interviews with key cast members as well as director Davis. Zylberstein describes her character as "the essence of love" and talks about the great rapport she shared with Garcia on the film. Davis perhaps overreaches too much when he describes Modigliani as one of the unsung heroes of the 20th century. Still, his passion for the project is undeniable.

Featurette-Behind The Scenes

    Finally, there is a Behind the Scenes feature which is accurate to its description. The feature is taken by someone on set and shows the cast and crew setting up for shots and shooting. It is interesting to watch although I can't imagine anyone wanting to see it more than once.

Theatrical Trailer

    As is often the case the trailer makes the film look far more dramatic that it actually is!


    This is for a series of other Madman films including the Australian movie Look Both Ways.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Information about the Region 1 release of this film is difficult to find. The official web-page for the film seems to link to a pornographic comic website - at least Modigliani would have been happy with the "art" connection!


    Modigliani is a brave attempt to sum up the life of a painter who is perhaps incapable of a perfect biography. The film is entertaining if a little long.

    The transfer cannot be faulted with some nice cinematography accurately brought to DVD.

    The extras are a little thin on detail.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Friday, November 10, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDOnkyo DV-SP300, using Component output
DisplayNEC PlasmaSync 42" MP4 1024 x 768. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJBL Simply Cinema SCS178 5.1

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