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Originally published Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 3:07 PM

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‘The Artist and the Model’: It’s not just clothing that’s lacking

A movie review of “The Artist and the Model,” a lovely but lightweight film — shot in artsy black-and-white — about a female drifter and the elderly artist who takes her in.

The Washington Post

Movie Review 2 stars

‘The Artist and the Model,’ with Jean Rochefort, Aida Folch, Martin Gamet. Directed by Fernando Trueba, from a screenplay by Trueba and Jean-Claude Carrière. Not rated; contains artful nudity, brief sensuality, mildly crude language and an image of a corpse. 105 minutes. In French, Spanish and German with English subtitles. Sundance Cinemas.

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Artists and doctors are allowed to stare at the human body for professional reasons. That’s according to “The Artist and the Model,” when a curious boy wonders just what kind of an occupation would provide him the opportunity to ogle naked women all day, like his neighbor, the famous sculptor, does.

Take it from me, kid, “movie director” would be just as good a career choice.

That’s judging by the close attention Spanish director Fernando Trueba pays to the unclothed physique of Aida Folch, who plays the model Mercè, in this lovely but lightweight story about a female drifter and the elderly artist who takes her in.

Set in the South of France during World War II, the film — shot in artsy black-and-white — pretty much revolves around Folch’s physique, which, for much of the tale, is un­encumbered by clothing.

The screenplay is equally monomaniacal, with entire conversations occurring around the theme of Mercè’s anatomy. At one point, the artist (Jean Rochefort) asserts that the naked female form is the first proof that God exists (the second being olive oil).

Be that as it may, Mercè’s derrière is, at the very least, the raison d’être for this film. Despite a minor subplot about a wounded member of the French resistance (Martin Gamet) who briefly recuperates in the artist’s picturesque studio, “The Artist and the Model” isn’t about much, other than female beauty.

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