Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini


Renoir

Renoir
Starring:
Vincent Rotters, Michel Bouquet


Rated: R for sequences of art-related nudity and brief language.
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: July 7, 2013 Released by: Samuel Goldwyn Films

Here's a film to behold mostly from a visual standpoint set on the French Riviera in 1915.

Gilles Bourdo's very painterly Renoir (in French with English subtitles) has more than a dash of style and sophistication even if it frustratingly languishes in the narrative department. That's not to say that an atmospheric, sensual beauty isn't on screen thanks in part to Christa Theret (Cesar-award winner) as teenage model Andree who comes into the life of 74-year-old renowned impressionist Pierre-August Renoir (Michel Bouquet) and his injured soldier son Jean (Vincent Rotters).

The radiance of Theret with Andree's porcelain skin and flame-red hair soaking the sun is a sight for sore eyes; the ailing Pierre-August bandaged with arthritis has a nude subject and Jean who helps with the arrangements for dad when home on leave on the family's idyllic estate presents a love triangle. It would have been better if Rotters and Theret had a more natural charisma together on screen; what works more charmingly is her interludes with Bouquet. Andree becomes a muse of a great artist at the twilight of a career and of Jean who would be embarking on a filmmaking one (she would become one of his leading ladies as he would go on to make Rules of the Game and Grand Illusion).

What's interesting is the authentic look of the many Renoir's on view courtesy of released art forger (once of the French Foreign Legion) Guy Ribes who even provides a hand for Bouquet in Pierre-August's deteriorating condition. Even if this adaptation of a biographical novel by Jean's descendant, Jacques, hardly accommodates its running time, its performers are often illuminated thanks to exquisite lensing with Taiwanese native Mark Bing Ping Lee in a very polished production complemented by Alexander Desplat's lush score. This Renoir can marvel through its way with light and hues even if it's destined for a more discerning, older viewership.

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