More Panting than Painting

As Gilot, newcomer Natascha McElhone has more than enough poise and emotional range to make her under-written character come across as attractive and compelling. She also does as well as anyone could when it comes to delivering long stretches of prosaic narration. If she isn't nearly as colorful as some of her co-stars -- most notably, Joan Plowright as Gilot's anxious grandmother and Joss Ackland, briefly, as a charmingly melancholy Henri Matisse -- it isn't her fault. They, like Hopkins, have the juicier parts and the meatier dialogue.

-- Joe Leydon

Surviving Picasso.
Directed by James Ivory. With Anthony Hopkins and Natascha McElhone.
Rated R.
125 minutes.

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