Pioneering female painter Paula Modersohn-Becker is portrayed in loving, colorful strokes in this engaging German biopic.

“Whirling and busy with incident, Paula captures the intensity of German painter Paula Modersohn-Becker’s life, with its artistic escapes to Paris, flirtations with hedonism and belated sexual awakening.

“The opening stages of the film, directed by Christian Schwochow, promise a familiar enough tale of one plucky woman overcoming substantial adversity in an aggressively guarded man’s world. “Women will never produce anything creative apart from children,” bleats Fritz Mackensen (Nicki von Tempelhoff), her condescending instructor at a Worpswede artists’ colony, “correcting” her unorthodox brush technique by forcibly guiding her hand. But while feminist resolve drives much of the storytelling, the film’s gender politics grow more complicated in its study of her rocky romance with fellow painter Otto Modersohn (a fine Albrecht Abraham Schuch), an ostensibly kind figure with limited understanding of his wife’s gifts.

“Craft aspects are all of a suitably high standard. Costume designer Frauke Firl has particular fun with the gaudy, bustling excesses of Art Nouveau-era Paris and the heavy tweedy dourness of what Paula comes to regard as “Philistine” Germany.” - Variety


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