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A gorgeous movie!
richard-17877 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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An excellent film that carries a misleading rating
Red-12519 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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sumptuous story of painter and filmmaker son
maurice yacowar23 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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Velvet Flesh
David Ferguson10 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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Visually impressive biopic of last days of great French painter, falls down in the drama department
Turfseer13 May 2013
Warning: 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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excellent drama, may be too slow for some
beautox9 April 2013
Warning: 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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Beautifully Impressionistic Film
doug_park200110 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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Renoir: cinema as an impressionist art form
feodoric25 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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Beautiful but Boring
ThatMovieWatcher22 April 2013
Warning: 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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Memorable but hard to sit through
Carol Seranga18 May 2013
Normally I love French films, especially those set in the beautiful countryside, and I did enjoy the cinematography in this film, but.....something was really lacking for me. Other reviewers have said the same - an unfortunate lack of drama or excitement, in a plodding but beautiful film. Not much development of the characters - we are left wondering about the various females in the household and their feelings. The wounded son displays a curiously restrained demeanor in the film, not saying a whole lot, and the younger son is portrayed as somewhat odd and neglected, but I did not read anything about his neglect in other biographies of Renoir, and his strange behavior seemed to have no point in the film. I found it hard to sit through the whole film, constantly expecting something to happen. One moment of strong emotion by Andree did not lead to anything much afterward. The constant focus on Renoir's horribly disfigured hands was probably essential but disturbing. I would have liked some scenes with flashbacks to his youth and success as a painter, to give this film some more life. At the time I really felt that I did not like the film, but I keep thinking back on the scenes, so it was worth seeing.
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Very good
zetes17 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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Film comme Peinture
clarkj-565-16133611 May 2013
The moment the film opens, you are immersed in the countryside of southern France. The colours are warm and very expressive. In fact the film is shot very much as a painting in itself, which is quite beautiful. All natural light. You want to relax and soak it all in, but there is a thread of tension that moves throughout. As "the boss" says, life is like a cork and you have to follow it where it leads you. For Renoir himself, the flesh and its immediacy is all important. It must be seized and exalted in that very moment. For his son Jean, he feels the need to go back to war, a higher calling as it were. He falls for the spell of his father's model Andrée. You constantly feel the tension between the privilege of the "Chateau" and the needs of the flesh for life to continue. A visual experience.
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"Masterfully atmospheric and cinematographic..."
Sindre Kaspersen5 December 2013
which he co-wrote with French screenwriter Jérôme Tonnerre and French screenwriter and director Michel Spinosa, is inspired by real events in the life of a French painter, a French filmmaker and a French actress. It premiered in the Un Certain Regard section at the 66th Cannes International Film Festival in 2013, was shot on locations in France and is a French production which was produced by producers Olivier Delboch and Marc Missonnier. It tells the story about a renowned painter and widower named Pierre-Auguste Renoir who lives in a house in the French Riviera with his youngest of his three sons named Claude who also paints and their housemaids. Pierre-Auguste doesn't walk anymore, he worries about his son named Jean whom is serving his country in the First World War, his hand which he paints with is not as good as it once was and he is hearing the voice of his former wife in his dreams, but then one day a woman named Andrée Heuschling walks into his house.

Distinctly and eloquently directed by French filmmaker Gilles Bourdos, this quietly paced and somewhat fictional tale which is narrated from multiple viewpoints though mostly from the main character's point of view, draws a calmly engaging and refined portrayal of a French artist whose inspiration is revitalized when he acquaints a woman who tells him that she has been sent by his spouse to pose for him. While notable for its distinct, naturalistic and somewhat surreal milieu depictions, reverent and versatile cinematography by Taiwanese cinematographer Mark Ping Bing Lee, production design by French production designer Benoît Barouh, costume design by French costume designer Pascaline Chavanne and use of sound, colors and light, this dialog-driven and narrative-driven story about a son whom after returning home from war with a wounded foot intending to go back when his foot has fully recovered, befriends his fathers' new model who makes an everlasting and life-altering impression on him, depicts three dense studies of character and contains a great and timely score by French composer Alexandre Desplat.

This somewhat biographical, modestly humorous and romantic, observational and reflective cinematic artwork which is set during a summer in Côte d'Azur, France in the early 1910s, which has been chosen as France's official submission to the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards in 2014, which conscientiously reconstructs scenes from the life of three prominent 20th century artists and where a lady of gracious femininity who brings a son closer to his father, instigates the birth of a filmmaker and a soldier is coming to terms with what the experience of love has done to him, is impelled and reinforced by its cogent narrative structure, substantial character development, rhythmic continuity, poignant instrumental tones, incorporation of art in cinema, scenes of Pierre-Auguste Renoir painting Andrée Heuschling and the involving and commendable acting performances by French actors Michel Bouquet, Vincent Rottiers, Thomas Doret and French actress Christa Théret. A masterfully atmospheric and cinematographic homage.
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stensson12 May 2013
The relation between the painter and his model has seldom been questioned. Not much talk about man power. Quite few smiles about it. If it had been otherwise with female artists painting naked men, we don't know much about. It's not much of that sort in art history.

We here meet the aging Renoir and one of his last models, Andrée. It becomes complicated when Renor's son appears. What's strongest? Art or sensual love?

It could have been an interesting dilemma, if this had been more of a film and less of just pictures. The story is lost because of that. Neither questions nor answers.
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Reprise of the glow of Renoir's last years
gradyharp28 December 2013
Writer/director Gilles Bourdos (with assistance from Jacques Renoir, Michel Spinosa, and Jérôme Tonnerre) bring us the incandescent beauty of a transcendent summer in 1915 in the Côte d'Azur when Pierre-Auguste Renoir began the denouement of the Impressionist period of painting. More than a simple story, this film is a recreation of the view of nature and of the human figure as bathed in that special light of the countryside of France. It is as much an artwork as t is a biographical view of one of history's great painters.

The Côte d'Azur, 1915. In his twilight years, Pierre-Auguste Renoir (Michel Bouquet) is tormented by the loss of his wife, the pains of rheumatoid arthritis severely limiting his movement, wheelchair-bound, and the agony of hearing that his son Jean (Vincent Rottiers) has been wounded in the action of WW I. His household is tended by maids who have been previous models, and his youngest son Coco (Thomas Doret) who suffers from the lack of attention from his still grieving father. But when a young girl miraculously enters his world, the old painter is filled with a new, wholly unexpected energy. Blazing with life, radiantly beautiful, Andrée Heuschling (Christa Theret) will become his last model, who rejuvenates, enchants, and inspires both father and son. Returning to the family home to convalesce, Jean too falls under the spell of the new, redheaded star in the Renoir firmament. In their Mediterranean Eden - and in the face of his father's fierce opposition - he falls in love with this wild, untamable spirit... and as he does so, within weak-willed, battle-shaken Jean, a filmmaker begins to grow.

Bathed in the cinematography glow of Ping Bin Lee and the subtle, sensual musical score by Alexandre Desplat and greatly enhanced by a pitch perfect cast, this film is more of a mood piece than a biopic. At film's end we are informed of the lives of the characters; Jean married Andrée and they made very successful films together until their divorce (Jean Renoir become one of the most highly regarded film directors in history, dying in 1979 – the year that the then destitute Andrée died, Coco (Claude) Renoir gained fame as a ceramic artist, and the eldest on Pierre became an actor whose son became the brilliant film maker Claude Renoir). It is an important moment in the history of art and a quietly pensive study of the mind of artists and their models. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, December 13
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olivier pantz13 January 2013
This movie literally paints the end of the life of Auguste Renoir (how subtle...). It is mostly centered around one of his last model, Adèle, which will become the wife of his son Jean (the film maker). The screenplay, the dialogs and the actor direction are miserable. The only thing that could be saved is the picture and the light. I said "could"... if they were not incredibly pretentious. The intention is clearly to bring the public into a live painting of Renoir (a very unoriginal idea). Unfortunately, the image is only "pretty" and "well crafted", but without any life or personality. Were it only up to me, I will have left the theater (It happens only once in my life before, during a screening of "Austin Powers"). My advice: Run away.
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Do not go there
azengin13 April 2013
Apologies for my ESL.

If you go to cinema for cinematography, or - to French films - for subtlety, precision and nuances in acting, do not go there - you'll be disappointed. Camera is not well with selecting frames and mise-en-scène. Misplaced – and moving – references to still life. Undeveloped primitive dialogs. If you were interested, the "story" is forgotten to be told.

I assumed that director loved painter Renoir; I expected it to be in "Renoir" palette and settings, but it appeared in rather "Degas", with pleinair hints to "Pissarro".

It was said (Manet?) about Renoir that "he thinks that he is a painter". Gilles Bourdos thinks he is a director.
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Beautiful, loving, and slow slow prepared
secondtake27 October 2014
Renoir (2012)

So promising. And so beautiful without depth. See it if you love beautiful, patient (aka slow) movies. It's set in the French countryside during WWI, and is filled with loving scenes of the fields and woods and streams there, drenched in gorgeous light. And it is filled in wonderful interiors, day and night, including some lovemaking. And it is filled frank nudity, in the name of art.

You see, the main character, which should have been the name of the movie, is the model of the great Impressionist painter

But late Renoir compared to early Renoir—that is, late works by the painter compared to early works by the filmmaker—are no contest. One artist is checking out, and leering and relaxing. The other is striving and incomplete, entering a new medium and a new age. History might say that the father was more important overall, and I agree that some of his early paintings are monstrously perfect. But by the 20th Century, some 30 or 40 years after his heyday, it's another story, and his studies, many of them nudes, are weak and indefinite. I teach art history, which is no great claim, but I study and look at this stuff all the time, and late Renoir is to be avoided!

Not so early Renoir, the son, the film director. By 1939 Jean had made one of the truly great masterpieces of the period, in any medium: "Rules of the Game," as it's called in English. It gives away his own familiarity with the rich and cultured world of France before WWII. It gives away what he disdained about his upbringing, in fact, as he critiques it in the film, with a laugh and some true pathos. That's 20 years after what you see here, but this is a film site, and if you want to connect the dots, see that one.

But look, this isn't a documentary, it's a movie, a bio-pic in a way, lush as it is. And it's slow. It avoids actual depth and substitutes profound (and often touching) commentary. It resides in the color and light and smoke made during the filming, which isn't really the point—except for the flimmakers. In a way I'd say it conjurs up the time, in a precious and empty way, very well. No contradiction intended. It won several best costume awards.

But be prepared. If you love art and love Renoir, you'll be disappointed, in the end. (The paintings in the film were made by a notorious forger.) If you just love beautiful films to get lost in, this might do the trick. It's immersive. And it does remind us of the real depths of the original Impressionists and their love of light, and their love of life. That's the real point here. What is the true interest—the beginning of the son's film career, is left a footnote.
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Keyhole Painter
tedg30 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
In theory, this should be one of my dearest films. It concerns sensuous urge at the level of obsessive spirituality. A way of continually falling in love that is itself worth falling in love with.

It concerns painting and is intended to be presented in a painterly way. The setting is a fantasy for many men: being lovingly cared for by a coven of dedicated women so that you can indulge as an artist and be celebrated.

But most of all, it is structured as what I call a folding. It is a collection of images about making images. It is also a film about the making of a significant filmmaker.

These three things proceed simultaneously, driven by a single woman. The setup of the story is similar to the much superior "La belle noiseuse (long version):" In that film, you can see the model's body be enriched by how it is seen. We *see* it being seen and how. The woman in that case is rather ordinary outside the story, but her side and the surrounding film weave seduction successfully. We get it, all the many mysteries evoked.

Not so here. We do understand what is being inferred, in part because characters speak about it. But we never enter the level where flesh dissolves into and dissolves our life. There is disappointment all around and it is too easy to blame the actress who is the focus. She never transcends. But this is less her fault than the filmmaker's. He simply doesn't give us watcher's souls to step into.

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
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This is a chronicle of two geniuses and a muse in a time capsule.
juoliver-704823 May 2017
To experience this movie at full it is suggested to recall that Auguste Renoir was one of greatest artist ever and one of the creators of the XX century visual perception. Also it will be an advantage to know that his second son, Jean, was one of the greatest filmmakers that ever existed. Renoir is set in a time lag of few months in the wonderful environs of a farmhouse at the French Rivera. This film is the entrapping of this period in this particular place. The farmhouse is owned by Auguste Renoir and it is his place in the world. Life in the house hold is routinely established and predicted. A group of loyal women dedicate to the accommodation, feeding, cleaning, transport and assistance of Auguste who is suffering of an unkind rheumatic arthritis which has him severely handicapped, in spite of his condition he is determined to keep painting incessantly. A young woman, Andree, interrupts this inert equilibrium. She comes as a model for the painter. She is hired and stayed in the ample house but she is not able to accept the routine and way of life of the household, she is an independent soul. Auguste son, Jean, returned from the war as a wounded soldier, he is depleted of dreams or plans for the future. Andree, with her lust for life, becomes significant for both father and son. This is the story background of Renoir but what really tells us the story of the film is the place, the farmhouse in Le Collette. Its different rooms, its kitchen, the surrounding grassy terrain, the trees, the cloth lines, the nearby areas: the sea, the thick forest of high trees, the stream, the waterfall the gate to the property , the road to the gate. A sensitive, inquisitive and intelligent camera has followed and captured the lives of the people populating and interacting with this place, integrating the presence of the wind and the rotations of the light and the umbrellas which the women play with. The images were built with visually intense scenes. Angles, lighting and editing were used in a painterly mode of short brush strokes and with the calibration of short takes where conversations were cut to continue an emotional atmosphere. The apparently isolated and homogeneous landscape of the south of France was pierced with some visuals of angst expressing the terrible war occurring not far from there. Only once the camera left the landscape of Le Collette to follow Andree who was in a Cabaret. This short scene is shot with the same intensity and quality than the rest of the movie but with a certain judgment to the contrasting context. The cinematography and editing were essential and unmatched, the set decoration, production design and costume design transpired truth to the period and the music complemented the beauty of the scenes. The acting was wonderful in what I think was a very strict, disciplinary work because of the historic reality of the characters. Christa Theret as Andree was inspiring and convincing as an independent, feisty, needed to be kept, young woman. The master story teller was the director, Guilles Bourdos; I suppose he had a great determination in shooting this movie in the way it was completed. It is for the most part a visual story and sometimes moviegoers yearn for a more verbally explanatory story. He handled the elements of the film with great ability and talent to favor the audience with a great experience.
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Everything is brown...
terraplane4 April 2016
Renoir painted some of the most beautiful pictures of the impressionist era. His paintings have light, they have vibrant colours, they have soft muted colours, they are coveted by collectors, galleries and especially auction houses who sell them for vast amounts of money. This dismal movie has none of these attributes. It is shot using light brown filters in the mistaken belief that this somehow looks like a Renoir painting. It does not. What it does is destroy the natural beauty of the South of France and turn the entire thing into a symphony of sludge. Not only is the movie brown, it is also makes a mockery of Renoir himself by portraying the great artist as a man of little intelligence. The script has him swearing at every opportunity and generally acting like a peasant. The script is hopeless, the characters are almost all rendered as unpleasant in one way or another. There is nothing in this movie to commend it. Do yourself a favour and go to an art gallery and look at his paintings or buy a book instead of wasting 2 hours of your life on this excruciating failure.
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From canvas to screen.
tao90222 July 2015
An interesting, complex, revealing story about the relationship between the painter, Renoir, one of his models, Andree, and one of his sons, Jean.

Jean Renoir returns to his father's house to recover from a wound obtained during the First World War. The painter's favoured model gradually grows close to Jean, which in turn provides us with an insight into the relationship between father and son as well. We see the beginnings of Jean Renoir's interest in filmmaking.

Beautifully filmed. A little aimless at times. Could have had a few more dramatic moments.
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Worth seeing, but frustrating.
runamokprods2 September 2014
Beautifully photographed, the images manage to catch the essence of Renoir's use of color and light. In a way cinematographer Mark Ping Bing Lee is the real star of this film, creating at atmosphere that tells us more about the characters, and the Renoir's art than all the dialogue combined.

I also loved the performance by Michel Bouquet - in his 80s as the film was shot -as the slowly dying Renoir, battling to continue his painting until the last. With simplicity and economy. his eyes and gestures let us feel some understanding of the man and his art.

Additionally I appreciated the choice to just focus on a brief period near the end of Renoir's life, and his (platonic) relationship with his last muse, rather than the usual sprawling bio-pic approach.

On the other hand, I wasn't enamored by the script (or at least the English translation on the subtitles) which kept reducing much of what is said by Renoir and those around him to easy and generic statements about art, pain, joy, creativity. If the images capture the richness of the man's work, the dialogue is often the Hallmark card opposite.

Also, perhaps the most interesting part of the story, the return of Renoir's son Jean - who would go on to be one of the great film-makers of all time, from WW I, and his slow falling into romance with his father's muse Andree is jammed into the end of the film, and stays very much on the surface. You know something is amiss when the most emotion you feel in a film is at the cards just before the end credits summing up all the events you didn't see.

It's too bad, because if the human stories (and ironically both generations of Renoir did work that was nothing if not about humanity) had matched the beauty of the images this seems like it could have been a great film -- instead of a beautiful but somewhat hollow and emotionally remote one. Still worth seeing, just frustrating.
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A more sensuous than sensual portrait of the artist as an old man
Tabarnouche18 June 2014
And to think I almost didn't see this film because of its ridiculously low IMDb rating. Are those now skewed by investment bankers, flash traders, and other impatient shills of Satan who find the pace of films like Renoir glacial?

What a shame, if so. This film recounts and humanizes the final years of one of the world's most revered painters, one who rejected the title of artist. It is an Impressionistically rendered portrait (worth seeing for the Mediterranean light alone) that sparely and delicately portrays a cascade of relationships: between a father and a son 53 years younger, an arthritic painter who came to his métier in his fourth decade and a tempestuous adolescent model, the regenerative radiance of untrammeled eros, a love triangle, a female entourage who devotedly care for and carry le Patron wherever he will paint, a duty-bound WW I biplane pilot and a feisty fetishized lover, a latent filmmaker who here begins shedding his timorous, jejune indifference and later won international renown.

It is a masterpiece, a visual, gustatory, and vocal feast, yet one from which music is mostly absent. A lingering, sequestered fin-de-siècle world from which war was mostly distant. A microcosm where vital energy in all its guises was evoked and honored. It prompts you to take in the light, the space, the nourishing gusts from the Mediterranean, the temperate, fertile verdure, the French cadences of early-20th-century rural France.

Why so much talk among reviewers of abundant female "nudity" and "nakedness"? After a scene or two, it goes almost unnoticed, so naturally did it blend with the Edenic environs.

The film is, perhaps above all, a condensed history of a family permeated by quiet genius and love of art and the arts. One somehow senses its origins and dénouements without being told of them.

Renoir (the film) had deficits that others more critically competent than I have detailed. But it's tempting to begrudge Jacques Renoir, Gilles Bourdos and Jérôme Tonnerre the laconic textual bio of Andrée Heuschling (Christa Theret) that rolled by just before the credits. It asserted, not without Schadenfreude, that after her breakup with Jean Renoir in 1931 (not covered in the film), Andrée fell into a life of "obscure poverty".

Yet no one actually knows what became of her. Could she not, for all we know, have bested Jean's fate? Might she have found her way to a Sardinian isle like the one where Lina Wertmüller shot Swept Away? A reclusive Impressionist may have offered to make a breezy, clothing-optional life with her in a cliff-side villa there (or so the sequel I'm planning has it). Only Heuschling, unlike Wertmüller's Raffaella, this time opted to stay put and leave the painted porcelain intact.
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An Interesting but ultimately unsatisfying French period drama.
Rana Saadullah Khan19 April 2014
Sure, the film uses wonderful natural imagery of the French Rivera. Yes, the setting is absolutely beautiful and every tiny detail of the historical setting is well accounted for. Definitely, the score adds well into the film's romantically artistic theme. And still there's the fantastic acting and directing to appreciate. Yet there's a but. The film is so boring that the average viewer will never be patient enough to watch the film till the credits roll, the ending is highly unsatisfying and almost abrupt, and the ultimate point of the film is really unclear and clouded over puzzling and not very meaningful phrases that appear to make the film have a message that it failed to deliver. Was the film discrediting ideals of patriotism over art and individualism or not? Was the film ridiculing so-called 'progressive' and 'open-minded' artists or not? And if one knows the true story behind it, this film really has a bleakness attached to it, and you feel a lot of pity for the lead female character.

Not one of the greatest Oscar submissions from France, but hey, the setting could make a lot of tourists go southwards from Paris.
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