Movie Review

Artemisia (1998)

EW's GRADE
C-

Details Release Date: Jan 01, 1998; Genre: Drama; With: Valentina Cervi

Pretty tableaux, sexy situations, attractive actors, easy-to-read art-history content — they make for pleasant eyewash in Artemisia, but there's a bizarre slant to this swoopy biographical drama from French director Agnes Merlet. In telling the story of (now) renowned 17th-century painter Artemisia Gentileschi (Valentina Cervi, suggesting an Italian Daphne Zuniga), the director has decided that, actual historical evidence to the contrary, the 17-year-old artist (famous for her masterpiece Judith Beheading Holofernes) was not so much raped by her libertine, much older, married teacher (Miki Manojlovic) as surprised by his passion, which she soon voluptuously returned. (The rape charge was brought by Artemisia's father, himself a painter with grudges to bear against rivals, including his own more talented daughter.)

Thus this romanticized bit of high-toned soft-core art-history lesson — all lush landscapes and lusher bodies — isn't to be trusted. Tragedy becomes Florentine ''Melrose Place.'' Daphne Zuniga would feel right at home.C-

Originally posted May 22, 1998 Published in issue #433 May 22, 1998 Order article reprints