After seeing a French-Canadian movie made by and starring people we didn’t know, the next up was a French-French movie, made by and starring people we didn’t know: Renoir.
Pro tip for foreign countries: If you could limit your actors, writers and directors to about 10-12 people, we here in America would have a much better chance of recognizing them when their movies made it over here.
Anyway, this is the story of the painter Pierre-August Renoir and one of his sons, the film-make Jean Renoir. I was not particularly eager to see it, beloved as it was by critics and tepidly received, at best by audiences.
But it’s fine. Measured, maybe even slow. But it’s an interesting time period (WWI) full of interesting people engaged in situations, I can only assume, that were created out of whole cloth by the writer and director. I mean, I suppose they could’ve used Jean Renoir’s biography of his father as a starting point, but—well, it just seems awfully intimate and rich in detail no one could possibly know.
For something that must be so carefully constructed, it’s a little murky. It’s not clear who the main character is. I guess Jean Renoir. But he doesn’t go through much of a character arc. Pierre-August doesn’t either, really. Neither does the third leg in their triangle, the model/actress Andrée Heuschling.
Their relationships move through arcs, at least. Everything kind of comes together in something like an ending, though the stinger (discussing the fates of Jean and Andrée) feels sort of contradictory. We were not bored, somehow.
It’s beautifully shot, like a Renoir painting, of course. (Although moments reminded me more of Rembrandt.) And it’s kind of impressionistic: blobs of color, imagery, emotion, all forming to make a cohesive whole, even if it doesn’t quite gel as a traditional narrative.
I probably put it somewhere between the 56% the peeps gave it and the 80% the critics gave it.
I’d also note that Christa Theret looks good naked. This is no small matter, since she is naked a lot. Artistic naked, though, so it’s okay. More importantly, for me, is she looks era-appropriate. Unlike, for example, Bérénice Bejo in The Artist, she is lean without being hard, soft looking with a swayed lower back that makes her belly curve outward.
And Renoir paints her fat, which she doesn’t care for at all. Heh.
Anyway, I can’t blanket recommend it because I’m biased toward WWI stuff, movie stuff and art stuff in general, to say nothing of naked redheads, so you may not enjoy it as we did.