Biography | Drama
Set in Paris in 1919, this biopic presents the life of Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani, centering, artistically, on his relationship to and rivalry with Pablo Picasso when they both lived in Paris. Modigliani, an Italian Jew from Livorno, has fallen in love with Jeanne, a young and beautiful French Catholic girl. The couple has a child, and Jeanne’s bigoted father sends the baby to a faraway convent to be raised by nuns. Modigliani is distraught but needs money to rescue and raise his child. Paris’ annual art competition is in the offing. Prize money and a guaranteed career await the winner.
Neither Modigliani nor his rival Picasso have ever entered the competition, believing that it is beneath true artists like themselves. But push comes to shove with the welfare of his child on the line, and the impoverished Modigliani signs up for the competition in a drunken and drug-induced act at the center of a cafe frequented by artists, including Picasso, who is, by Modigliani signing the roster for the competition, himself induced to sign.
All of Paris is aflutter with excitement at who will win. Modigliani tackles the work of his entry with the hopes of creating a masterpiece, and knows that all the artists of Paris are doing the same. Once completed, he calls his agent and dearest friend,Léopold Zborowski , personally to take the painting to the competition and to make sure no one touches it. While his friend is taking the painting, Modigliani is at City Hall waiting to finally obtain a marriage license. City Hall closes before he is called, but he manages to persuade the woman clerk who is shooing him out to have mercy and give him the license anyway because he has a beautiful daughter and another on the way—and because he is an artist, as is she! As the last person to leave, he decides to celebrate with one drink. Unfortunately his addiction, and his nervousness about the competition, make him drink many more.
The competition was going to start at eight o’clock, and when he realizes he is very late he finally rushes out, without paying. While drinking, he had been asked whether he had the money to pay, and he had answered that he had 5,000 francs (the prize money) and could buy everyone in the cafe a drink. Two guys that were in the bar follow him and assault and severely beat him, under the assumption that he has a lot of money. Once they find that he has no money they leave him in the snow, bloody and more than half dead.
His painting of Jeanne in a blue dress he had stolen from a shop window wins the competition, besting even Picasso’s cubist portrait entitled “Modigliani.” Unaware of this victory, he somehow manages to make it home, where Jeanne washes the blood from his face. But then his artist friends come, realize that he needs to be in a hospital, and take him there over Jeanne’s protests. He dies in hospital. Jeanne commits suicide by falling from a window. They are buried together, along with the unborn child.
Modigliani is a 2004 American-French-German-Italian drama biographical film written and directed by Mick Davis and starring Andy García, Elsa Zylberstein, Omid Djalili, Hippolyte Girardot, Eva Herzigova and Udo Kier.
It is based on the life of the Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani.