Just before World War I, Wilhelm Uhde, an uptight and somewhat prissy German art collector moves to the town of Senlis, just north of Paris. There he encounters a batty, wild-haired, down-trodden fifty-something cleaning lady called Seraphine. Seraphine is an outsider, virtually completely divorced from the real world. Mocked and disparaged by the villagers, she spends her free hours and rare free centimes trawling riverbeds, fields, and village streets and even raiding the local church collecting the tools of her trade. For beneath the almost autistic wackiness is a brilliant, intuitive artist: Seraphine is Seraphine Louis. But war is coming and the world’s own madness will become more debilitating than the private torments of either Wilhelm and Seraphine.
So Seraphine is a true story and it’s kind of depressing. But it is also one of those absolutely sumptuous, award-winning, French period films – like Horseman on the Roof – where every single scene is a perfect piece of art, every prop, every location, every loose strand of Seraphine’s hair, a perfect realisation of bygone France. The movie filmed in Crecy-la-Chapelle in Ile-de-France, which frankly is jaw-droppingly beautiful in and of itself. Plan your trip here.