Another film to cross off my Jean Renoir Complete List, another probably never to watch again. It's not that it's bad, generally it's pretty good and nearly always interesting but it's over-melodramatised and simplified Zola for my taste.
Actress Nana has men especially rich men eating out of the palm of her hand and begging for more, she has at least 3 suitors vying for her courtesan favours. How it all unravels is the subject of the classic tale. And the sets are marvellous, sub-Stroheim, the modern tinting and music very good (Studio Canal), the print clear and sharp, and the photography excellent considering the then technical limitations Renoir had to contend with. The big problem is Hessling's and the other leads constant over-acting spoil the flow of the story. Definitely not tres chic! They all make the contemporary British barnstorming actor Todd Slaughter look subtle in comparison, although to be fair for a lot of the time the leading men seemed to understudy statues to Nana's wildly waving arms. As a rule silent films needed expressive acting to hold wandering eyes in the cinemas, but this reminded me of the mickey-taking in Singin' In The Rain. A red blooded male swooningly said at the beginning in response to her stage dancing that she was "the pinnacle of elegance"! And I also doubt whether either sexists or feminists will find anything worthwhile.
But I enjoyed the 129 minutes as I like silent films anyway if you're only a Renoir completist I think it'll be an ordeal for you to complete. Nice print and tints!
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