Set on the French Riviera in the summer of 1915, Jean Renoir -- son of the Impressionist painter, Pierre-Auguste -- returns home to convalesce after being wounded in World War I. At his ... See full summary »
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Set on the French Riviera in the summer of 1915, Jean Renoir -- son of the Impressionist painter, Pierre-Auguste -- returns home to convalesce after being wounded in World War I. At his side is Andrée, a young woman who rejuvenates, enchants, and inspires both father and son. Written by
Samuel Goldwyn Films
Appropriately enough, about the world's most famous Impressionist painter.
While it's definitely not for those who strongly favor conventionally plotted drama or fast action, RENOIR consists of immediate realism and puts you right with the Renoir clan on the French Riviera. It's the sort of film that could easily have been made overly artsy and dull, but it's neither.
The entire story takes place in 1915, toward the end of Renoir's life. The relationship between model Andrée Heuschling and son Jean Renoir is, in many ways, more the subject of the story than the painter himself, yet Renoir himself is indispensable as "the boss," a sort of god-like backdrop to the entire cast and story. Having said that, I must add that there is a fair amount on Renoir's artistic processes, and his philosophizing can be applied to all sorts of art-forms as well as painting. One of RENOIR's strongest aspects is its portrayal of a man who is obsessed with his work and has one thing which utterly engulfs and consumes him.
Like many French films, RENOIR succeeds in breaking all sorts of rules. Among them:
--The plot is meandering and somewhat slice-of-life but still gripping;
--Andrée, the "girl from nowhere," and free but neglected youngest son Coco are characters that beg to be developed further, but at the same time, perhaps it's better that they remain mysterious;
--Lots of female nudity without it seeming the least bit gratuitous: After all, the subject is an artist who often painted naked girls;
--The mood is a successful mesh of somberness, poignancy, and (often laugh-out-loud) humor.
Just about every artsy cliché could be applied to this film, but suffice it to say that it is a beautiful experience. Even simple colors come alive here for the audience as they did for Renoir himself. I'm a word person who's never been a big painting aficionado, but this film made me see the visual arts in a whole new light and may even have converted me to some extent. The soundtrack--quiet, unobtrusive piano scores in the background--also does a great deal to carry this film.
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