There’s an established way, in literature and in pictures, as epitomized in Maugham’s The Moon and Sixpence, of portraying artistic passion as an inescapable, self-destructing, unstoppable, amoral urge to create.

Two films I’ve recently seen conform to this pattern. La Belle Noiseuse (Jacques Rivette, 1991) tells the story of a painter. It’s three hours fifty-eight minutes of painting. A naked model, for your information, who must surely hold the record of more time nude in a single scene. Not that the film’s great —but it conveys the passion, the need, the insanity.

A little more morbid but equally effective is Philip Kaufman’s Quills (2000), which freely portrays the Marquis de Sade at the mental asylum he was secluded in sometime in his life, privileged as an inmate as long as he’s allowed to write, until that comes to an end.


PUZZLE (2018), directed by Marc Turtletaub. Not the typical tale of a woman realizing her potential, but rather a subtle, and remarkably not moving, portrayal of the different natural ways, good or bad, useful or harmful, in which ordinary men and ordinary women see the world around and interact with it.

You can also take the symbolic path and see here the story of Adam and Eve, retold, with the divine retribution being that of I’ll make it harder for you male to understand female, and for you female to understand male.