The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Renoir | The Movie Waffler

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New Release Review - Renoir

A vibrant young model enters the lives of the painter and his sons.

Directed by: Gilles Bourdos
Starring: Michel Bouquet, Christa Theret, Vincent Rottiers, Thomas Doret


Andree Heuschling (Theret) is an important, but largely forgotten, figure in French cultural history, having been the last model to pose for the impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir (Bouquet) and the first actress to star in the films of his son, and her husband, Jean (Rottiers). Bourdos film focuses on the final months of the painter's life, in 1918, as Andree arrives to pose for him and ends up living in his plush Riviera home. When Jean arrives home from injured from fighting in The Great War, he immediately falls for the young model.
In the early days of the French film journal, Cahiers du Cinema, its writers expounded at length about the poor state of French cinema. 'Renoir' is exactly the type of film so often lambasted in the pages of the yellow-covered magazine, a bland cash-in on a French cultural icon which feels more like a tourist board commercial than any kind of drama. There's absolutely no dramatic weight to Bourdos' tale and you can't help sense he's trying to create a story where none exists. Andree arrives, Auguste paints her, Jean falls for her. That's all we get. There's nothing to get you involved in this story, one featuring privileged people for whom life comes far too easily.
The one piece of dramatic conflict rests on one of the ultimate period-piece cliches: the young man who chooses to return to the war rather than staying with his lover. We learn nothing of what may have influenced the work of Renoir, neither father nor son. Renoir Snr is portrayed as a dirty old man, constantly babbling about young flesh, while his son comes across as a bit of a drip, a poor match for the vitality of Andree.
If there's one thing this film gets right, it's the beautiful cinematography of Ping Bin-Lee, perfectly capturing the light of a Southern French summer. For the most part, 'Renoir' is nothing more than another piece of Tourist Board Cinema.
5/10


Eric Hillis

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