‘Being Maria’ Review: Powerful Start, Fizzled Ending for Biopic on ‘Last Tango’ Star

'Being Maria' Review: Powerful Start, Fizzled Ending for Biopic on 'Last Tango' Star

The new biopic “Being Maria” starts off compellingly, recreating the worrying revel in of French actress Maria Schneider at the set of the debatable 1972 movie “Last Tango in Paris.” Schneider, just 19 years antique, became blindsided by way of the notorious butter rape scene – director Bernardo Bertolucci and actor Marlon Brando conspired to wonder her without warning or consent.

Director Jessica Palud vividly captures this pivotal, lifestyles-changing incident for the young actress. Rising star Anamaria Vartolomei portrays Schneider with heartbreaking authenticity as she’s betrayed by using the 2 guys she trusted as surrogate father figures.

Compelling Start Loses Momentum

While the filming sequences are powerfully rendered, “Being Maria” struggles to hold that dramatic momentum in its second and third acts. After recreating the “Last Tango” scandal, Palud and Laurette Polmanss’s script follows Schneider’s subsequent downward spiral into substance abuse and private turmoil.

However, this latter component lacks the targeted storytelling of the opening, turning into a rather predictable depiction of self-destruction without a strong narrative arc to maintain viewer engagement.

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Complex Questions Around Art and Ethics

Ultimately, “Being Maria” doesn’t fully do justice to its compelling challenge. But the film nonetheless raises thorny questions about the moral limits of art and the human charges of exquisite cinema.

Schneider’s tragic story forces us to reckon with whether or not creative achievements like “Last Tango in Paris” – which critic Pauline Kael hailed as a “movie leap forward” that “altered the artwork form” – are worth the personal trauma from time to time inflicted of their making.

By exposing how Bertolucci and Brando callously mistreated their leading girl, Palud’s choppy but properly-intentioned film argues that no cinematic masterpiece needs to come at the expense of human dignity.

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