Javier Bardem who plays the older Picasso is perfect casting as is Alex Rich for the younger Picasso—if looks are what is important.
And if you don’t know anything about Picasso, this lavish production which intermingles periods with an anarchist's aplomb is as good a way to start to get familiar with the Picasso and the by now legendary muses that populated his long, productive life.
Like many people trying to make sense of Picasso’s life and work which were entirely connected, they have made the women the focal point of the series ( I’ve seen only the first four parts)
But it’s so confusing! We jump back and forth from Dora Maar, Marie Therese, Fernande and Francoise, with a soupcon of Germaine. I’m not sure why they missed Eva (maybe she’s on deck) or most importantly Olga, who was the only wife until Jacqueline (also in the next parts?).
The male friends assume an importance that is occasionally overbearing though it's nice that they are there more than usual: Casagemas, who died tragically young, Apollinaire and Max Jacob the merry pranksters(did Jacob hit on Picasso quite so much?!), the dealers who at first gave him a hard time and then begged for crumbs, and Matisse who appears, so far,only in his work but was Picasso’s supposed great rival.
There are catfights (real fights), chaste love scenes, lots of melodrama.
The accents are a disaster. I have never heard so many bad French ones, actors slipping in and out of them with impunity.(I normally adore Clemence Poesy who plays Francoise. I've met the real Francoise. She is much more dynamic. Read her Life With Picasso which he tried and failed to suppress. That will give you a jolt)
The acting, not the fault of the actors I don’t think, is stilted and formulaic.
In short there is not an ounce of subtlety. Exec Produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, I don't know, maybe this is what has to pass for artists bios in Hollywood. Twas ever thus. Take a look at the old Van Gogh film with Kirk Douglas and the Goya with Ava Gardner. I long to see what Julian Schnabel is doing with Van Gogh, however, coming soon.
So many historians, filmmakers, writers, critics and ordinary folk too have had their try at parsing Picasso. I am enclosing here some other, in my opinion more successful hands. (We are all breathlessly awaiting John Richardson’s final installment of the biography) Still: if you want an introduction to the artist who along with Monet apparently is still the biggest draw in museums worldwide, tune in. It premieres tonight, Tuesday, on the National Geographic Channel.
*Follow the links to some of my previous extensive posting on Picasso and scroll down to my recent London blog where I discuss the current wonderful exhibition at the Tate Modern on 1932, one of his most productive years. I worked on a docu that was done in conjunction with WNET and the big MoMA retrospective after his death. I'm just another one of the many women who has devoted a chunk of her life to Picasso.