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The Stolen Painting: Great Art

It's a real.

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The Stolen Painting: Great Art

It's a real. They can't believe it. This masterpiece by Egon Schiele had disappeared since 1939. We found it at the home of a chemical worker in Mulhouse, hung on hideous wallpaper, in a charming pavilion. The contrast is striking. The auctioneer (Alex Lutz) can't believe his eyes. It’s the deal of the century. This guy drives an Aston Martin, wears tailored suits, wears expensive watches. It is not excessive to note that the gentleman is quite stinky. It's not his intern who will say the opposite. This Aurore doesn't let herself be walked on. We will discover that she lied quite a bit on her CV.

Louise Chevillotte is perfect as a fake girl from a good family who has a checkered relationship with her father (Alain Chamfort, astonishing) and who buys a jacket in Drouot. Scottie’s Auction Company is a world of its own. We talk a little about art and a lot of money. The miraculous painting is estimated at 8 million euros. It will reach much larger sums. We see from this that so-called “degenerate” art has its good sides. Alex Lutz, sharp as a Japanese kitchen knife, leads his entourage with a wand. No one will be surprised that he divorced. Bertina was his colleague. Obviously, she is not resentful since she gives him a helping hand in this story which could turn into a fairy tale. So Léa Drucker lives in Lausanne, she takes baths all the time and has big surprises in store.

Nora Hamzawi, not born last year, pulls the strings and succeeds in the game. The American heirs are in the game. Billionaires have their quirks. They sometimes change their minds. The trick is to stroke them in the direction of the hair. The brave Alsatian in possession of the painting does not want to get rich: don’t touch this fortune tarnished by the Nazis. Attitude deserves respect.

Pascal Bonitzer is in good shape. It is inspired by a true story, the discovery in the early 2000s in the suburbs of Mulhouse of a painting by Egon Schiele looted by the Nazis. But Bonitzer invents everything else with a freedom and fantasy that is never overplayed. His film is sharp, elegant, funny and documented - around twenty interviews with auctioneers, gallery owners, collectors and antique dealers served as material for the screenplay. It opens with a hilarious succession scene with a snobbish and obnoxious grandmother. The pace will not weaken. The subject inspires the director, who wanders among these characters who are not exactly sympathetic, but so colorful. He is not here to preach virtue. He observes turpitudes, analyzes the alphabet of feelings, scrutinizes market variations. This results in a carefully balanced cocktail of classic and modern. The camera does not feel obliged to stand up to the wall. The heroes work, they don't seem to live on the zeitgeist. Money, or rather speculation, makes the link with one of Bonitzer's previous films.

In Right Now, the filmmaker immersed his characters in the world of finance. Here too, art arouses desires more than it elevates souls. The former critic of Cahiers du cinéma prefers to have fun with it than to give a moral lesson. The comedy prevails, often light, sometimes serious, with the Shoah and the spoliation of Jewish property in the background. Family is once again at the heart of the plot. Children have scores to settle with fathers, ghostly or absent.

There is some great intelligence in this chronicle of an announced sale. No dialogue shocks the ears. If we put this stolen painting up for auction, hands wouldn't stop going up in the room. Bonitzer once, Bonitzer twice, Bonitzer three times? Awarded. The buyer will not have to regret his action.

“The Stolen Painting”. Comedy by Pascal Bonitzer. With Léa Drucker, Nora Hamzawi, Alex Lutz. Duration: 1 hour 31 minutes.

Le Figaro’s opinion: 3/4.

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