I recently saw a movie called Texuality that features the lovely Carly Pope playing a very unrealistic artistic type. Now, I’m a sucker for nice clothes and apartments in movies, but seeing yet another struggling painter (who supports herself blogging?) in yet another huge gorgeous loft space takes me so far out of the movie, I might as well be reading it’s budget.
One of the best portrayals of artists I have ever seen is Catherine Keener’s Adele Lack in Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York. Of course it helps that it’s also a great film- wonderful, funny, sad, and a truly ambitious work of art. Check it out if you haven’t seen it. And see it again if you have – it’s definitely a film that rewards multiple viewings.
Anyway, Adele has a messy house and uses the space in her basement adjacent to her washer and dryer as a studio – a reality for many working artists and a far cry from a huge, gorgeous loft. Adele paints on the walls of her messy house and her even messier studio. Adele’s artwork all looks like it was done by the same person, and Catherine Keener does an excellent job of pretending to paint, unlike some actors who have obviously been instructed to go over the same area again and again. (Although they wisely don’t actually show much painting in the film).
Charlie Kaufman has an obvious respect and affinity for painters (in the interview included on the DVD extras he even makes comparisons between his work and that of a painter’s), and it shows not just in the way he gets the surface details right, but also in the character as a whole- Adele is obsessive about her work, depressive, and totally self-absorbed, which (unfortunately) is also the reality for a lot of working artists.
Of course, the part that really makes Adele work for me is the work itself. Alex Kanevsky provided Adele’s paintings and they are simply fantastic.
Can’t wait to see Kaufman’s new project about the film biz – Frank or Francis.