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33 out of 43 people found the following review useful:

sumptuous story of painter and filmmaker son

10/10
Author: maurice yacowar from Canada
23 January 2013

+Renoir (France, 2012, 112 min)

Gille +Bourdos uses the well-known stories of the painter father Pierre-Auguste and the filmmaker son Jean Renoir for a film that is at once breathtaking spectacle and a profound anatomy of the impulses and values of art. The film was one of my highlights at this year's +Palm Springs International Film Festival.

The plot presents the 74-year-old veteran painter (Michel Bouquet) and his ravishing new 15-year-old model, Andree Heuschling (Christa Theret) enjoying their opulent country estate while WW I pounds the humanity outside. Mark Lee Ping-Bin shoots the interiors with classic Dutch light and shadow but the exteriors in the unbridled luminosity of Impressionism. Here Renoir explains that structure comes from colour, not form, and he refuses to use black. That summarizes the painter's Impressionism: it finds reality in what he makes of the outside world, not what it firmly may be. His swirls of rosy chub continues his celebration of the young "velvet" flesh, despite the war's flensing and destruction of the flesh beyond the estate and his age's grotesque gnarl and ruin of his bones. His painting days, like his valiant denial of death, are limited.

Son Jean (Vincent Rottiers) returns from the front with a symbol of the reality his father rejects: an open wound. The family has a variety of open wounds, from the loss of the boys' mother and the favoured model/nanny Gabrielle to the sons' resentment of their father's aloofness. The cut to the bone represents the reality Renoir's fleshy ladies and painted pommes reject. Vincent's convalescence goes beyond the flesh gap to include winning Andree, who -- a closing title tells us -- married him, starred in many films (as Catherine Hessling), and after their split died alone in poverty. The sins of the father don't just visit the son but move in with him.

The tension between the painter's idealized flesh and the its horrific reality are frequently imaged, especially in the eating scenes and in the kitchen where a maid delicately peels a tomato, removing a hide to expose a succulent flesh. The hanging carrion are an implicit reminder of the hunting and killing of the human prey outside. Renoir pere screams from the nightmares he doesn't have his sunshine, models and pink paints to ward off.

Around the story of Renoir pere beats a more subtle story of Renoir fils. Like Andree, the film serves both father and son. Unobtrusively Bourdos weaves in the specific sources of Renoir's cinema. These include his sense that wars shatter natural cross-border fraternities, the harshness of the class prejudices, the increasing disrespect for culture, the necessity for art. Even the quintessential understanding which will become "The terrible thing is, everyone has his reasons." For more see www.yacowar.blogspot.

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29 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

An excellent film that carries a misleading rating

10/10
Author: Red-125 from Upstate New York
19 May 2013

Renoir (2012) written and directed by Gilles Bourdos, tells the story of the aging painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir (Michel Bouquet), his young model Andrée (Christa Theret), and his son Jean (Vincent Rottiers).

Andrée is a free spirit. She has no problem posing in the nude, but she makes it clear to everyone that she is a paid model. She has no intention of posing for the honor of it, nor is she ready to become a cook or a maid, as have other models before her.

Naturally, Jean is drawn to the beautiful young woman, and the plot revolves around the relationships among and between the three main characters.

This is an extraordinarily beautiful movie, filmed on the scenic Côte d'Azur. War is raging elsewhere in France, but life is peaceful in this region. The pace of the film reflects the pace of life at the time--quiet and slow.

This is a film worth seeing, based on historical fact, and suggesting what motivated the younger Renoir to become the extraordinary film director that he was. For some reason, the IMDb weighted average of this film is a dismal 6.6. (The ratings themselves are much higher, but the weighting system brings the number down.) Don't be discouraged by the low rating. This is a movie worth seeking out and seeing. It will work better in a theater, but, if necessary, see it on DVD. It will repay your viewing.

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17 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

A gorgeous movie!

8/10
Author: richard-1787 (richard@berrong.fr) from United States
7 June 2013

This is without question one of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen. The photography, especially the scenes outdoors, looks like one early Renoir painting after the next. The colors are vivid and lush, and the greens are varied to the nth degree. You could watch this movie with the sound turned off and still have a great time.

Which is not to say that the script and acting are not worth paying attention to. The story is nothing special: During the last years of his life, during World War I, Renoir lived in the South of France, to avoid the German invaders. There he paints a beautiful young woman, whom we get to see in the altogether rather often, to pleasing effect. (The movie never explores the extent to which this has an erotic aspect for Renoir, but since it is made clear that he ended up sleeping with his previous models, we can assume that. He is not just painting rose and pink. He keeps emphasizing that he is painting flesh.) His middle son, Jean (who will be the famous French film director down the road), comes home from the war on sick leave and eventually falls in love with the new model. That doesn't go particularly well, as she doesn't seem very committed to monogamy with him.

The youngest son, Claude (named after Monet), doesn't deal well with his Mother's recent death, or his distant relationship with Renoir. That doesn't get explored very deeply either.

So, in effect, the story threads are handled very Impressionistically as well: little touches of them here and there, but no detailed analysis.

The music is often very beautiful, so don't turn off the sound.

Don't expect great drama here. The acting is all fine, but there are no in-depth character portraits here - as there are not in Renoir's paintings - and no real drama. It is all very impressionistic, and often in a very beautiful way.

See this in a theater if you can. I suspect it will lose a lot reduced to even a 64" TV screen.

------------------------------

I just saw it for a second time, this time on my 46" TV screen. Yes, it does lose a lot, but the color and light are still beautiful. It's a must see movie, but as I wrote before, don't expect much in the way of drama.

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17 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Velvet Flesh

6/10
Author: David Ferguson (fergusontx@gmail.com) from Dallas, Texas
10 May 2013

Greetings again from the darkness. Admittedly, I expect more from independent films since there is usually no committee of producers sucking the life out of the filmmaker's vision. While writer/director Gilles Bourdos teams with Cinematographer Ping Bin Lee to deliver a film that carries the visual beauty of its subject's paintings, it somehow offers little else.

Veteran French actor Michel Bouquet captures the essence of a 74 year old Pierre-Auguste Renoir, a master Impressionistic artist. By this time (1915), Renoir is in constant pain and continues painting despite his gnarled hands courtesy of severe arthritis. He has relocated to Cote D'Azur (the French Riviera) to leave in peace with nature and the warmer weather. His estate is gorgeous and provides the backdrops for many paintings. We meet his newest model, 15 year old Andree Heuschling (Christa Theret). Her spirit inspires not just Renoir the artist, but also his son Jean (Vincent Ruttiers), sent home to recover from his WWI injuries.

Both father and son seem to objectify the beautiful and spirited Andree, neither being capable of an adult and equal personal relationship. The frustration with this movie stems from its unwillingness to offer anything other than observations of its characters. It meanders through days with no real purpose or insight. This despite having subjects that include one of the greatest artists of all-time and his son, who went on to become a world famous movie director. The story, if there is one, just kind of lays there flat, surrounded by beautiful colors and textures.

Auguste Renoir died in 1919, but earlier that year managed to visit the Louvre and view his own paintings hanging in the majestic halls. Jean Renoir married Andree and cast her in his first silent films (as Catherine Hessling). When the films flopped, they divorced. She went on to a life of obscure poverty, and he directed two of the greatest films in history: Grand Illusion and The Rules of the Game.

Alexandre Desplat provides another fine score, leaving us lacking only a story or point to the film. To learn much about Pierre-Auguste Renoir, it is recommended to read the biography his son Jean wrote.

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15 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Visually impressive biopic of last days of great French painter, falls down in the drama department

6/10
Author: Turfseer from United States
13 May 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

'Renoir' is the new French biopic about the last years of the great painter, Pierre-Auguste Renoir. If you think about it, creating a film biography of any painter is difficult because the act of creating a painting, does not lend itself to great drama. The painter's life has to be dramatic. What makes 'Renoir' doubly difficult is that director Gilles Bourdos has chosen to view Renoir at the point in his declining days.

'Renoir' is sort of like an extremely impressive family video postcard. This is what it has going for it: Fantastic visuals (Bourdos employed the infamous art forger, Guy Ribes, to reproduce the Renoir paintings throughout the film), a haunting musical score and the marvelous Michel Bouquet, in a compelling character study of the brilliant but often petulant artistic genius, Renoir. My favorite line of Renoir's is when he speaks of the flesh as "everything". Despite suffering from crippling rheumatoid arthritis, Renoir managed to keep producing great paintings, up until the end.

What 'Renoir' unfortunately does not have much of, is drama. The story focuses on the appearance of Andree Hesuchling, an aspiring actress who ends up as Renoir's last model for his masterpieces. After Jean Renoir returns from World War I, convalescing from a leg wound, there is some tension between father and son, after Jean takes an interest in Andree (it was Renior himself who had the reputation of bedding his models while he was married and before his illness made him dependent on others).

There is also a focus on Jean's internal arc, as he struggles to find his own inner voice. We become privy to Jean's future greatness, when he shows a short silent film, to his admiring family (including his father). The second act crisis fails to excite, when Andree suddenly disappears from the household, causing Renoir to become quite upset. Jean finds her at a bordello of sorts but convinces her to return to the Renoir estate. We later learn in the credits that she starred in Jean's early films, up until 1931, when they separated. Tragically, Andree fell into poverty and obscurity. Jean, on the other hand, remains a legend in cinematic history.

'Renoir' has excellent performances from all the supporting players including Thomas Doret as Coco, Renoir's youngest son, who aches to fly free from teenage bondage.

I couldn't get very excited about 'Renoir' despite the fact that visually it certainly is a beautiful film. Would I advise you to go and see it? Yes. But don't expect any great revelations. You can usually learn quite a bit from wise old men as they talk about the past—but an examination of their present circumstances, doesn't always lead to compelling narrative.

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14 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

excellent drama, may be too slow for some

8/10
Author: beautox from United States
9 April 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Renoir is a film about a person (the artist Renoir), his family, and his later life. Sorry, but there are no explosions, gun battles, or even a fist fight. The emphasis is on character and atmosphere. Thus there are scenes that seem to go nowhere, and conversations that don't seem to have significance. They are here, like the impressionist painter tries to convey a feeling. To this end, the film does very well. The viewer gets into the minds and hearts of the artist, his sons, and his model. Based mostly on fact, there of course may be some inaccuracies that may be discovered. but like an impressionistic painting, the mood is set, and the imagination does the rest.

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14 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Beautiful but Boring

4/10
Author: ThatMovieWatcher from United States
22 April 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I enjoyed the experience of watching the film. The contrast of the beauty of the model and the natural landscape of South France against the ugliness of the war and Renoir's disease was...beautiful. The movie was intentionally a lot like a painting.

Also like a painting, the creator of the movie leaves a lot of the story to the viewer's imagination. Neat. Very artistic. I think I get it, but I still expect more of a story and character development from a movie.

Other than Renoir, who were these people? What, if anything, motivated their interest in each other? If there is no story there, can you tell us something about Renoir's earlier years? Something? Anything?

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Beautifully Impressionistic Film

8/10
Author: doug_park2001 from United States
10 June 2013

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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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Very good

8/10
Author: zetes from Saint Paul, MN
17 December 2013

Painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir (Michel Bouquet) is an ancient man by 1915. It is WWI, and his two eldest sons, Pierre and Jean (Vincent Rottiers), are at war, while his youngest, Claude (Kid with a Bike star Thomas Doret), just a boy, plays around the estate, claiming to be an orphan (his mother dead and his father an old man). Along comes a beautiful young woman (Christa Theret) who wishes to model for Renoir. Her beauty inspires the old man. Soon, Jean arrives home and begins an affair with the model (whose name is Andrée Heuschling, but who would later change her name to Catherine Hessling and star in many of Renoir's early films). This is, above all, just a very pretty movie. Very fitting, given its subject. Alexandre Desplat also provides a very gorgeous score. The story isn't hefty, but it's good. The acting is good throughout. France submitted this for the Academy Awards this year, bypassing the much more popular (and frankly better) Blue Is the Warmest Color, but Renoir is a worthy film, as well.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Renoir: cinema as an impressionist art form

10/10
Author: feodoric from Canada
25 December 2013

This film is deliberately full of short scenes without apparent rational purposes. If there was one or maybe two such scenes, one might see those as plot holes or dead ends, i.e. as flaws.

Personally, I see this film as an impressionistic film about a famous impressionist painter. The very thin storyline along with the numerous vignettes of the daily life of a painter, his model, his sons and his family/maids (eating, painting, cooking, talking about this and that, sleeping alone or together, bathing, or simply being idle), all filmed with the extraordinary beauty of the Côte d'Azur and its unique light which drew so many painters to the region: everything concurs to making of this film a painting on film. A painting that uses the impressionist technique: myriads of small brush strokes of colours which seem out of place, unexpected or even plain wrong, whose purpose we understand only when we look at the overall canvas once finished. Renoir is such a painting.

This is a masterpiece. I found it as mesmerizing as the most beautiful impressionist paintings, whether they are by Renoir or Monet, Degas or Cézanne. I was literally transfigured by the sheer beauty of the images, and could not care less for the meaning of every little strokes of this large fresco of the beauty of nature in that region blessed by a magic sunlight... There is no pace when contemplating a painting. Everything else stops while one immerses oneself into it.

And if there is one overall purpose for this movie, it is contained in the short epilogue shown at the end of the film. Jean Renoir became the famous film director of international renown, and this movie conveys the circumstances -mostly his relationship with Andrée - that led him to take this career at a time when he saw himself as mere canon fodder with nothing else after the war had ended. There are several ways to tell a story, and this is a new one. The originality of Renoir (2012), what makes this movie so unique is that it transposes a painting technique to cinema.

Do not expect much action. As Pierre-Auguste Renoir says in the movie (paraphrasing) as an almost zen principle: "Do not interfere with the course of nature: picture yourself as a cork carried over by a stream, and let yourself slip away slowly as time flows by...". This is exactly how one should watch that extraordinary movie. A healthy film for the soul.

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