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Review: Manet: Portraying Life

Manet: Portraying Life

A 90-minute look at the new exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts, Manet: Portraying Life. Not quite a documentary, not quite an exhibit, the film talks to experts about the life and work of the famous yet often misunderstood artist Edouard Manet, giving audiences a peek into the gallery, and up close shots of his many prized works.

Who’s in It?
Art Historian Tim Marlow hosts and narrates, and welcomes many guests to offer insight and intrigue to the life and work of Edouard Manet.

And now for something a little bit different. This hour and a half look at what is ostensibly an art exhibit is illuminating and simplistically beautiful. In essence, the viewer is taken through the gallery of the much-anticipated Manet exhibit at London’s museum. It is the first showcase to feature the portraiture of 19th century French painter Manet.

In parts a biography, this revealing piece of film is at its best when its most basic: showing the works of art. The audience becomes a visitor to the gallery, with a slow zoom into on a piece, and then lengthy shots, including some fascinating close ups of each. While the narrator will explain some of the background, and discuss with various people the importance and impetus for the select works, the film allows you to take in the art all on your own.

It’s not the same as being there in person, for better or worse, but it’s interesting nonetheless. Ambient music plays as you have an opportunity to gaze upon Manet’s works, letting your eyes wander around the canvas drawing your own conclusions before Marlow offers up some thoughts and observations.

Certainly coming close to pushing things at its 90 minutes, it will carry the average art lover, and surely enamor the art enthusiast. It’s no substitute for the real thing, but the care is taken to make it an enjoyable viewing experience.

Should You See It?
Well, if you were hoping to make it to London but couldn’t, then yes.

As part of Cineplex’s Exhibition: Great Art on Screen series, Manet: Portraying Life will play Thursday April 11, Sunday April 28, and Saturday May 25.


Anthony Marcusa

A pop-culture consumer, Anthony seeks out what is important in entertainment and mocks what is not. Inspired by history, Anthony writes with the hope that someone, somewhere, might be affected.