SÉRAPHINE is a French movie about a poor, devout Christian painter who becomes somewhat famous but has trouble fitting into society because of the visions of angelic powers that inspire her primitive art and simple faith.
Based on true characters, the story opens in 1913 when 48-year-old Séraphine Louis becomes part-time housekeeper for visiting German art collector Wilhelm Uhde. Wilhelm has become famous for celebrating the early work of Picasso and other similar painters. He is surprised one day when he discovers that Séraphine, his uneducated, slightly delusional but very devout housekeeper, has painted a beautiful still life that reminds him of the primitive style of modern, undiscovered painters that he loves. He is further impressed when he sees Séraphine’s strange and intricate, but colorful and compelling, paintings of flowers and trees. Séraphine’s art is inspired by nature and nature’s God, who has sent her visions of angels to inspire her.
A poignant and unexpected professional relationship develops between Wilhelm and the strange painter. The vagaries of World War I and the Great Depression intervene, however, eventually leading to eccentric, erratic behavior and even madness.
Though this absorbing French movie has a Romantic worldview of the artist and artistic expression and has a tragic ending, it honors Séraphine’s Christian muse. In fact, the last shot of her shows her on a hill looking toward the sky as if she is still peacefully communing with God and His angels. Before that, the movie shows her painting while singing and praying. Also, one of her surviving paintings shown in the movie, a large canvas of bright red flowers with strange shapes, seems to symbolize the torn flesh and blood of Christ that frees us from our sins. Thus, Séraphine is like a Holy Fool character who can lead other people to God and Christ.
Even so, some of her actions in the movie remain erratic, bizarre and unexplained, so the spiritual aspects behind Séraphine’s behavior remain somewhat of a mystery. If the movie had explained more about the religious motivations that perhaps animated Séraphine’s art, it could have been even more inspiring.
The movie also contains some light allusions to the art collector’s homosexuality, brief nudity and three disturbing scenes of mental illness. All in all, therefore, MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for this movie, which is meant for older mature audiences, not for families and younger children.
(CC, Ro, Ho, L, V, S, NN, A, D, M) Strong Christian worldview, with references to God, Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, and angels, honors a poor and eccentric, but very devout, Christian painter who has trouble fitting into society and eventually suffers a mental collapse, a light Romantic view of artistic expression comes into play at times, and allusions to the homosexuality of a second major character; one “d” word; light violence includes sounds and flashes of war, images of soldiers, and frightened woman in mental hospital needs to be forcibly restrained and put into a solitary room by herself; sounds of sex when maid hears employer’s son and another maid in other room and allusions to one character’s homosexuality includes he gets up from bed where another man seems to he sleeping; upper female nudity when middle-aged woman bathes in stream and upper male nudity in a couple scenes; alcohol use; smoking; and, disturbing scenes of woman taken to mental hospital and later being restrained and protagonist becomes materialistic, splurges too much and then is hit by the Great Depression.
SÉRAPHINE is a French movie about a real-life, poor, devout Christian painter who becomes somewhat famous but has trouble fitting into society. The story opens in 1913 when the 48-year-old woman becomes housekeeper for a visiting German art collector who helped discover Picasso. He is surprised one day when he discovers that his uneducated and slightly delusional, but very devout, housekeeper has painted a beautiful still life. He is further impressed when he sees her strange and intricate, but colorful and compelling, mystical paintings of flowers and trees. A poignant professional relationship develops between them, but World War I, the Great depression and the housekeeper’s erratic behavior cause problems.
This absorbing movie has a Romantic view of artistic expression and a tragic ending, but it honors the Christian muse of the title character. Despite her eccentric, even insane behavior near the end of her life, she is last shown standing on a hill looking up toward God. If the movie had explained more about the religious motivations that animated her art, it could have been more inspiring. MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution due to brief nudity, allusions to homosexuality, and intense scenes of madness.