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Visual Entertainment presents
Modigliani (2004)

"I carried a bag full of love, but no one to share it with."
- Amedeo Modigliani (Andy Garcia)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: February 16, 2006

Stars: Andy Garcia
Other Stars: Elsa Zylberstein, Hyppolite Girardot, Omid Djalili, Eva Herzigova
Director: Mick Davis

MPAA Rating: R for (some language and drug use)
Run Time: 02h:07m:10s
Release Date: September 27, 2005
UPC: 602498842478
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
D+ D+C-B+ C-

DVD Review

With numerous leading roles under his belt, Garcia has almost disappeared from the Hollywood limelight of late, flying under the radar with supporting roles in films like Ocean's Eleven, among others. Whether he is an example of wasted star power, or an excellent character actor who has just recently found his niche is debatable. What can't be argued is that he's back in full leading-man form in 2004's Modigliani.

Garcia brings respected artist Amedeo Modigliani to life via the writing and direction of Mick Davis. Best known for his intense rivalry with Pablo Picasso (Omid Djalili), Modigliani is revealed to be far more than a painter who always played second fiddle to his far more successful counterpart. Davis' film focuses on this rivalry, but also finds plenty of time for Modigliani's relationship with his lover, Jeanne (Elsa Zylberstein), and his experiences in the Italian art scene. All of the biopic conventions we've come to know and tire of are here; these annoying clichés are essentially the film's downfall, but Garcia does his best to keep things afloat.

The painter's childhood is touched on via flashbacks, but we never really get a good feel for the lasting effects his parents had on him. Instead, we jump right into Modigliani's situation in post-World War I Paris. This is a man crippled by alcohol and drugs, always struggling to make ends meet for Jeanne, the love of his life, and their child. Jeanne's father disapproves of Modigliani and plans to send their child to a convent for a better life. To combat this and increase his net worth, Modigliani enters Paris' art competition where he stands to win a prize worth 5,000 francs.

Into his life steps Picasso with all his cocky arrogance, an artist whose reputation and bank account far exceed that of the always downtrodden Modigliani. The rivalry between the two goes far beyond the art competition, as Picasso makes a point to embarrass Modigliani at every step.

Modigliani is just like most biopics, but Garcia's performance attempts to elevate it. This is a return to form of sorts for the actor, as he commands our attention at all times, making us feel the ups and downs of Modigliani's life. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast does a terrible job supporting Garcia. Picasso has been portrayed many times on film, and Omid Djalili's version of the painter is an example of an actor imitating an icon instead of portraying him. With all of the passion that Garcia puts into his work, it's even more disappointing that his on-screen partner, Elsa Zylberstein, is often lifeless.

At the hands of a better writer/director and casting agent, Modigliani could have been a much more impressive, even moving film. Andy Garcia does all he can to single-handedly take the project to the next level, bit it's just too bad that such a potentially career reviving performance is surrounded and hindered by a disappointing, formulaic biopic.

Rating for Style: D+
Rating for Substance: D+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The 1.78:1 nonanamorphic widescreen presentation is just as disappointing as the film itself. The transfer has the look of one that was taken from a PAL source, generating an overall misty look. The color-rendering is drab as a result, but blacks and shadow levels hold up strong. There isn't much grain or dirt, and the bit that is evident is never a distraction.

Image Transfer Grade: C-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The audio is available in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0, with the former being the lone bright point on the DVD. A wide dynamic range is exhibited, delivering an enveloping experience for the viewer. A great deal of bass gives things a boost as well, while the dialogue is always crisp and clear. The 2.0 track is also impressive, but the 5.1 is the mix of choice.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Irish Jam, House of Nine
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: The extras are nothing special, but there is a trio of trailers (including one for the feature) and a seven-minute featurette on the making of the film. This piece offers interviews with Garcia and Mick Davis, as well as a brief bit of on-set footage.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

It's great to see Andy Garcia headlining a movie after a spate of supporting work. Unfortunately, the movie he's starring in is the unspectacular, Modigliani, which explores the life of the extremely talented artist. Visual Entertainment's DVD doesn't do the movie any favors, exhibiting below average video, and including only a couple of passable extra features.


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