I would imagine that most people who watch the made for TV movie "Georgia O'Keeffe" do so already aware of who Georgia O'Keeffe was and those like me who have no idea and watch because it is a movie are in the minority. But for those who appreciate movies which are beautifully crafted, which are made with care will have no problem what so ever in becoming immersed in this story of an artist who is credited as the Mother of American Modernism.
"Georgia O'Keeffe" starts in 1916 when Georgia (Joan Allen) meets the older Alfred Stieglitz (Jeremy Irons), a talented photographer, who was showcasing some of her drawings at his gallery in New York. We see how Georgia's blunt honesty fascinated the married Stieglitz who would offer her a place to live in the city and not only lead to an affair but the destruction of his marriage and then their own marriage. We see how Stieglitz and Georgia grew close as she modelled nude for him but also how eventually his wandering eye lead to problems of their own and her move to Mexico where the naturally beauty of the surroundings captured her imagination.
So as is pretty obvious my knowledge of Georgia O'Keeffe has only come from what I have discovered whilst watching this made for TV biopic and a quick scout around on the net. As such I haven't got the foggiest how true the screenplay is to O'Keeffe's life or how many liberties are taken with the timeline to squeeze it into the boundaries of a reasonable length movie which flows. In fact I couldn't tell you how authentic Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons portrayals of O'Keeffe and Stieglitz are but as a movie fan it doesn't matter.
As a movie fan "Georgia O'Keeffe" is a beautifully crafted, beautifully shot and beautifully acted movie which has the feel and detail of something which feels like a big screen work of passion from a European director with a love of art rather than a lowly made for TV movie. The look is exquisite from the period settings of early 20th century buildings to the sun lit outdoor scenes and when combined with a flowing, at times jocular soundtrack feels and looks like something which has come out of Italy.
But it is not just the look which is magnificent but so is the screenplay which for those like me are unaware of who O'Keeffe was gives enough detail to understand her significance but then gives us the storyline, the romance between her and Stieglitz. There is a real depth to the way these characters, no these people react to each other which has an erotic sensitivity which is captivating. But it also has a wonderful playful side, a sort of quirkiness which again gives it that feel of Italian cinema.
And then there are the performances with Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons doing a fantastic job of making these characters feel so real, so interesting. As I mentioned there is an erotic sensitivity to their characters and it is credit to Allen and Irons that they bring this to life. But at the same time credit to director Bob Balaban who many will recognize as an actor for allowing these actors to build their characters in an unrushed manner whilst showing them in their full glory through a great eye for a shot and an edit.
What this all boils down to is that "Georgia O'Keeffe" probably has greater appeal for fans of the artist but it is such a wonderfully crafted and acted movie that it is just as appealing for those who enjoy beautifully crafted movies.