The Art Dealer (2015) L’antiquaire
Cast includes: Anna Sigalevich (The Piano Teacher), Michel Bouquet (Renoir), Robert Hirsch (My Man), Francois Berléand (The Transporter), Louis-Do de Lencquesaing (Hidden)
Director: Francois Margolin (Les petits soldats)
Genre: Drama | History | Mystery (93 minutes)
The audience is enraptured as Esther Stegman sings La Mariée était en noir. Afterward, she puts on her trench coat, takes her package and heads home. Inside the package are film reels and a note from Claude… “Haven’t seen it… there is only memory.” Esther recognizes the couple at the piano in the grainy film as her grandparents, Jean and Jeanne Stegman. What a glamorous couple they were! Esther probably got her love of music from them. In the meantime, her husband Melchior is appraising artwork at a client’s Paris home… “not worth much, I’m afraid.” But wait… the painting with the leopards… “Exceptional.” He’ll have to take it with him if he’s to authenticate it.
When Esther sees the painting, it looks familiar. She’ll ask her father about it when they go there for the engagement party. (Esther still hasn’t come to grips with her father remarrying.) When she shows him a photo of the painting, she’s surprised by his reaction… with tears in his eyes, he tells her he doesn’t want to talk about it. Perhaps Mr. Weinstein, a family friend, can shed some light. The painting was indeed her grandfather’s, but beyond that, she can’t seem to find out much. Jean Stegman was an art dealer here in Paris. He was shot by the Nazis in 1941. Esther wants to know what happened after that. The answer, it turns out, is rather complicated. Claude tells Esther she should find out who was named executor of Jean Stegman’s will. That’s going to take some digging in the archives and some trickery to even get into the archives. We find out that Esther is not only a music lover, but she’s also a journalist. Digging into stories is what she does. As it turns out, there are many people who don’t want her poking her nose into ancient history. At her father’s apartment, she makes off with a box of old papers. The papers were her grandfather’s, and they lead her deeper into family mysteries.
In style, The Art Dealer is a deliberate throwback to the classic mystery movies of the 1960s, except that the detective is a woman and the mystery is inspired by actual events. The Nazi era is not only an unending source of interesting war stories, but it’s also a rich source of artwork mysteries. As stolen works of art gradually resurface, it turns out that many have had a complex past. Discovering what happened to these works of art can also lead to uncovering family secrets… and family betrayals. The Art Dealer is an enjoyable movie with some interesting twists and turns. It isn’t always easy to figure out the relationship between some of the characters, but the story doesn’t entirely hinge on those details. When Esther first goes to the national archives, she’s given a mountain of files… “60,000 stolen works of art in France.” “Those were dark times… you shouldn’t stir things up.”
2 popped kernels
Esther seeks to learn what happened to her grandfather’s art collection after he was shot by the Nazis in 1941
Gender Style: Neutral
Distribution: Art House
Tempo: Cruises Comfortably
Visual Style: Nicely Varnished Realism
Nutshell: Art stolen by Nazis
Language: True to life