An American architect arrives in Italy, supervising an exhibition for a French architect, Boullée, who is famous for his oval structures. Through the course of 9 months he becomes obsessed with his belly, suffers severe stomach pains, loses his wife, exhibition, his unborn child and his own life.
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Other entrants in the festival have not retained their initial dazzle. Peter Greenaway’s The Belly of an Architect, starring an emotionally and physically splenetic Brian Dennehy, feels stiff and grandiose, simultaneously under- and over-directed.
Greenaway's most empathetic film yet, but also his most conventional narrative. The story of an artist's obsession with the past, sickness and infidelity leading to his downfall are not uncommon in cinema, but deepened by the formal and thematic complexity that is familiar with his work. Ruminations on the body, architecture and masculinity are notable but Dennehy's character work shines brighter.
Greenaway's most human film & also his saddest. Anchoring his usual ornate stylisation to a genuine character study, the film is less engaged in his usual theatre of cruelty & devoid of ironic detachment. Instead, it becomes a study in contrasts between cultures, the past & the present, but more significantly the contrast between the permanence of art & architecture against the fragility & finality of the human body.
Une histoire stomacale, de la bile à l'état pure. Si aujourd'hui le réalisateur se fait rattraper par sa mégalomanie, cette même mégalomanie à pourtant permis ce film... C'est le bon équilibre. A ne pas rater.
Un Greenaway obsédé (comme d'habitude) par l'anatomie et par l'esthétique classique (architecture et peinture), mais de façon "grand public", c'est-à-dire parfaitement lisible et plutôt sage, par rapport à la grande majorité de ses films...
The pains and sorrows of an artist. The fear of become forgotten. The ultimate escape to remain remembered. Greenaway's way of looking at European culture makes me rethink my awe for it. Great plastics, but it comes without saying - it's Peter after all!