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 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!
One of Greenaway's more transparent movies, and I love it all the more for that. The decay of art appreciation, the struggle of an artist fighting with bureaucracy for the art that no one cares about anyways, the fear of imminent fatherhood... All these themes are treated without the usual detached wit that can be seen in most of his work. Here, he conveys genuine empathy for Kracklite's tragic destiny.
I wonder, if Greenaway's strength is conveying the emotion of austere symbols and forms, then if his weakness is conveying the emotion of actual human characters. I lose my connection to the film toward the end, when I can neither sympathize or empathize with the titular Architect. I must admit, I'd rather admire the belly of his poisoner wife or of his enemy's sister.