Georgia O'Keeffe is one of America's most outstanding painters but very little has been revealed about her personal life. The Lifetime Channel corrects this with a new film titled Georgia O'Keeffe which stars Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons. The film does not deal with the totality of O'Keeffe's life but instead focuses on the days and years after she meets famed photographer and art impresario Alfred Stieglitz.
The movie gets off to an abrupt starts when O'Keeffe (Allen) goes to an art display which was put together by Stieglitz. She accuses him of displaying her work without her permission and he does not deny it. He does however try to justify it. From this point their relationship proceeds fairly quickly to a full fledged love affair.
O'Keeffe and Stieglitz are the best thing that ever happened to each other and the worst. She is a truly talented artist and he is a genius at promotion. He makes her a star and she makes him feel needed and important. Still even as they are growing in celebrity there is a serpent in their garden and that is jealousy. Stieglitz can not abide feeling less important than O'Keeffe, and O'Keeffe can not tolerate Stieglitz' unfaithfulness.
Allen and Irons convey all the right facets of these two people's personalities. They are both talented actors and you accept they are these characters from the very start. Still they never appear to actually get into their hearts or their passions. Stieglitz as played by Irons is quirky and irritable, and Allen's O'Keeffe is cool and serene for the most part. These two had a decades long love affair but the intensity of their relationship is never revealed by their actions.
There is also a question of the age of these two people at various times in the story. At one time we are introduced to Stieglitz' mother and she seems to be the same age as her son -- or younger. O'Keeffe's age is also unknown. Supposedly she is in her late twenties when she first meets Stieglitz but she looks the same at this point as she does years later.
Georgia O'Keeffe presents an interesting story but not a triumphant one. The interweaving of Stieglitz and O'Keeffe's lives keeps the plot moving but it never is a story that touches the heart or even the mind of the viewer. You can appreciate its meaning but the impact is dulled by Michael Cristofer's talky script and Bob Balaban's stiff directing.
For fans of Allen and Irons any chance to see these actors ply their trade is enough. Sadly "Georgia O'Keeffe" is not the best use of their talents. They bring their characters to life but don't inhabit them in a way that wins us over. The viewer gets a surface picture but never an inner one which is what the story needs to be complete.
'Georgia O'Keeffe" airs on the Lifetime Channel, Saturday, September 19 at 9PM, September 20 at 7PM, and September 22 at 9PM.