Cezanne and I

Rated 2.0

French screenwriter Danièle Thompson (Queen Margot; Cousin cousine) wrote and directed this stuffy and simplistic biopic about the longtime frenemy-ship between writer Emile Zola (Guillaume Canet) and painter Paul Cézanne (Guillaume Gallienne). Childhood chums and mutual outsiders in the French arts scene, the wealthy and difficult Cézanne and the icy intellectual Zola always made for a strange pair, growing further apart as Cézanne came to resent Zola’s success and acclaim. After Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, the bar has been raised for generation-spanning biopics about incorrigible artists, and the pseudo-salacious, Dawson’s Creek dramatics of Cezanne and I just don’t cut it anymore. The film rushes through their crucial preprofessional friendship in a few unmemorable scenes, only to spend the rest of the running time mooning over it like paradise lost. Thompson fails to inject any urgency or momentum or emotional investment into the narrative, explaining too much and feeling too little. D.B.