Does being an artist – free to boundlessly create in unbridled Neptunian fashion – mean having to forsake all else with Saturnine stringency, discipline and ambition? This age-old question is explored in director and co-writer Nenad Cicin-Sain’s The Time Being, in which Daniel (Wes Bentley), a talented, committed but financially unsuccessful painter, gets an opportunity to rethink his brushstrokes.
Daniel’s latest gallery show – of monochromatic renderings of rotting fruit fit for compost – has fallen flat, except for one sale. There may be a commission to come, says his good-guy agent (Corey Stoll), and Daniel delivers the canvas to the buyer personally. The painting’s new owner is Warner Dax (Frank Langella), a wealthy but sour man who, we learn, has done some personal digging into the artist’s life. Dax gives specific, well paid and seemingly meaningless tasks to Daniel who, with an increasingly annoyed wife (Ahna O’Reilly) and child to support, accepts these mini-jobs.
It’s safe to say that a movie’s secret, such as the truth behind Dax, must have its reveal. And what Daniel learns is critical to his growth as an artist and family man. Saturnine minimalism – the movie’s fine, bare-boned design and frames are mirror images of Daniel’s almost ossified creations – is also tied both to self-mastery and great teachers whose rigors may only be valued after the fact. Even harsh patronage, such as the kind offered by Dax, can miraculously point the way for dreams (Neptune) to become reality (Saturn).
Astrology Film Rating: ♄♆ (Saturn, Neptune)