Can I make a cheap joke and say that I’m impressed?
Mr. Chameleon has done it again (I guess that I should use “had done” given that my proverbial quickness has driven me to this series “only” after eight years of being broadcasted) and here we have in the first chapter of the series a young, determined
and absurdely painfully absolutely beautiful Claude Monet. Before talking of my favourite scene in chapter one think for a moment about this… Manet, Monet, Degas, Cezanne and Renoir in a bar. A gathering of talent equal just to the one we can see in Rafaello’s “School of Athens” (Leonardo, Michelangelo, Bramante, Raffaello, Sangallo)
My favourite scene is the “animated exchange of views” between young Monet and his master, Charles Gleyre, in front of a male model who has big feet. Gleyre accuses Monet of being to faithful to Nature and draw the guy as what he is (a bigfoot, apparently). Monet says these lines, which are simply an example of masterful writing and acting by Richard.
“… we will all draw him differently. And his (pointing to Renoir) feet will be different, just as we all are different and the world is different, in every moment, of every day“. “Style is what matters“, replies the master – “style, style, style…“. Monet interrupts him, almost shouting: “I want reality!“. “Reality has no place in my studio!” – answers Gleyre. And here we have the superb lines that Monet throws in the face of his already former master, as a tombstone: “I’ve just seen the future. And do you know something? You’re not in it“
My DVD recorder is still panting and recovering from the effort of repeated and continuated RW of this scene. Powerful. Total. Masterful. The way Richard’s voice slightly cracks at the beginning of the discussion when he says “for me Nature is an end itself” until he raises, losing his patience but never his temper, moving only his left hand as if handling a sword with it, stabbing with his revolutionary ideas Gleyre’s conservatism and stiffness, declaring him something past an old with that last line pronounced smoothly until the last, almost imperceptible, smirk.
I find these small gestures of Richard’s acting irresistible. As for instance in “The Crucible” promo video, when he shouts “we will burn together” that parkinsonian trembling in his hands which implies a total and complete symbiosis with his character. Give that scene to another actor and most probably that hand would be still.