Introducing her friend Daniele Thompson’s new film Cezanne et moi at a special screening at the Whitby Hotel last week, Diane von Furstenberg noted the painterly look, the sheer beauty of this movie. The audience of artists in all media could not have been more fitting: Marina Abramovic, Eric Fishl, Ahn Duong, Bennett Miller, Ellen Burstyn, Fran Leibowitz, Brigitte Lacombe, Art Spiegelman, among many others. Cezanne et moi, limns the intense and passionate friendship between two towering figures of world culture, painter Paul Cezanne and writer Emile Zola, imagining them as schoolmates, and rivals in art and love.
Just before the movie’s premiere, I had breakfast with Daniele Thompson, the esteemed director of Avenue Montaigne, co-writer of Cousin, Cousine, and the actor Guillaume Gallienne, who stars as Cezanne. Both Thompson and Gallienne identified with these artists’ struggles, while recognizing Cezanne as something of a mad genius. Thompson originally wanted Gallienne to play Zola. As it turned out, Guillaume Canet, the film’s Zola, and straight man in the bromance, could not make the celebration as his real-life partner Marion Cotillard was just giving birth to their child.