7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 12 May 2015
This film is framed as though it were a Renoir painting. The light is soft, suffuse, golden. The landscapes and people in them look harmonious, even Edenic. It's as if Renoir in old age had found an earthly paradise in which to live and paint, a place among olive groves, fields, flowers, streams and gardens at a high lookout point above the Côte d'Azur and Mediterranean. The place was called Les Collettes near the village of Cagnes-sur-Mer, the estate he built for himself and family.
In a way it was perfection. Here, surrounded by beauty, he experienced his final burst of creativity (1915-19), painting naked nymphs in bucolic splendour. Flesh and sensuality came to dominate his mind in the end, forming the basis of beauty and rapture for him. He had become a modern Titian, the artist whom he revered and worshipped above all others. Of his last model, muse and love Andrée Heuschling, he says to his son Jean:
“Her skin soaks up the light. I need living, breathing material, the velvety texture of a young girl's skin.”
So he remained consistent to the end, a sensualist and hedonist, a lover of feminine form and beauty. And for this he was defiantly unapologetic, celebrating beauty without shame.
But there is a dark sad side behind this bliss. Renoir in old age was infirm and in pain. Rheumatoid arthritis had swollen his joints. The pain was so bad he could barely stand and walk, nor could his gnarled and deformed hands hold a paint brush. Those who attended him (servants, models, family members) tied the brush to his hand with gauze. He was carried from place to place in a sedan. He was bathed, fed, put to bed. Active as he had been in life, he was now an invalid in the care of others. Yet gruff, determined and stubborn, he refused to quit, pushing himself on, absorbed in his obsession, his senses overpowered by colour and light.
Some have said that the film lacks narrative structure, that it has little action and tension, that the characters are not developed well enough. Who am I to say they are wrong? But there could be more happening here. The film could have higher purposes. It is unashamedly aesthetic. It asks questions about the nature, purpose and processes of art. It shows a true artist in a true life setting working with his materials — his paints, his brushes, palettes and canvases, his light and shadows and models, his ideas and ambitions, his demons and desires. As such, it is tremendous. It is truthful, brave and good. We do not see Renoir the great Impressionist here. We see Renoir the man, the ordinary yet extraordinary man who wrestles with his pain and past and ideas. To the extent we ever can, we enter the mind of the creator. We see his visions and understand what he struggles to show through his ideas of beauty. And in the end, humbled by his sensitivity and honesty, we see him as heroic.
His son Jean, who later became the renowned filmmaker, said his father never accepted the Great Master label the world gave him. He was instead a craftsman, artisan, ordinary worker. As a lad of 14 he had begun by painting flowers on porcelain plates and vases. The steady hand and patient eye were his stocks in trade. Yes, trade. He was a tradesman. And he kept this attitude to the end, even though, utterly paradoxically, he gave the world such remarkable visions of beauty.
Next to a stream on his estate Renoir is painting a scene of nude bathers, all of them women of course. His son Jean, looking at the canvas over his father's shoulder says:
“How about some black?”
His father replies:
“Dear boy, the Renoirs refuse to paint the world black. A painting should be something pleasant and cheerful. There are enough disagreeable things in life. I don't need to create more. Poverty, despair, death. They're not my concern.”
Instead he gave us summer boating parties on the Seine, dances at Le Moulin de la Galette in the Montmartre moonlight, beautiful children and mothers, flowers and gardens, cats and corgis, and always the bare pure-white flesh of his beautiful young Titian nymphs. Beauty, life, creation. These were the subjects he celebrated.
Heroic indeed, which is why we go on loving him.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 30 October 2013
"Renoir" (2012 release from France; 110 min.) is NOT an overview or bio-pic on the Impressionist painter's life. Instead, it retells one particular summer, set in 1915 in southern France. As the movie opens, we see a young woman named Andrée (played by Christa Theret) approaching the house of the Renoir family. Possessing a stunning beauty, she was recommended to be Renoir's newest model. Renoir at that point is already in his mid-70s, and endures various physical ailments. In the house there appear to be a group of women who at one point may have been models but ended up staying as maids. We learn that Renoir has three sons, of which the oldest two are now fighting in World War I. Then about one-third into the movie, one of them, the middle brother Jean, returns home from the war, having been heavily wounded. To tell you more of the plot would ruin your viewing experience, you'll have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Several comments: first and foremost, this movie is one of the most gorgeous looking movies I have seen in a long time. A number of the scenes recreate Renoir painting and to me it feels like every scene in the movie is like a painting come to life. Second, this movie moves as snail's pace, and I mean this as a compliment. It is, I suppose, in part a reflection of life a century ago, when everything moved slower and people had more time on their hands. Third, it takes quite a while for the movie to find its emotional footing, as in the first hour we simply get to know the various characters and how they fill their days. Fourth, WWI plays a major role in the movie, and in fact weighs heavily on the movie from start to finishg. Fifth, kudos to Michel Bouquet, a legend of French cinema (he was 85 when this movie was filmed), in the title role. To be that age and getting such a challenging role! Bouquet delivers a tour-de-force in my opinion. The other headliners (Christa Theret as Andrée and Vincent Rottiers as Jean Renoir) are also fine but are overshadowed by Bouquet. Lastly, beware there is quite a bit of 'artistic nudity' in the movie (although I thought it was never gratuitous or offensive). Bottom line: this is a beautiful, slow-moving movie that gives a glimpse into August Renoir's later life. Be sure to stick around for the end credits as we are told what became of the various characters later in their lives. As a complete aside, the parallels between this movie and another recent French-language movie called "The Artist and the Model" (starring that other legendary French actor Jean Rochefort), are striking.
I saw "Renoir" at my local art-house theatre here in Cincinnati in May of this year, and am glad to see that it has finally been listed here on Amazon US and Amazon UK as a future DVD release. When I saw it, I was quite surprised how packed the theatre was (mostly seniors, I might add). Regardless, if you are a fan of Renoir's art or simply in the mood for a slow-moving foreign movie that is a visual feast from start to finish, you cannot go wrong with this and I would readily recommend "Renoir".
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 28 May 2014
South of France in sunshine, summer-rain and sudden gusts of wind, stirring the pastoral idyll in Renoir's house and garden.
Stirred, but not shaken, life goes quietly on in this small realm, where Renoir is a benevolent , loved, and loveable King.
And there is drama there, contrary to opinions expressed in many reviews: The idyll is not stirred by rain and wind alone, but by the lovely, beautiful Nymph who has been hired to model for the old Painter.
Where she walks, stirred feelings follow in her footsteps. Not only her enchanting figure, but her nature as well, make men, boys and women in Renoir's household restless and sleepless.
The drama of the film lies hidden in the contrasts between the enchanting Nymph and the conflicts she creates by her mere presence, and the contrast between the pastoral idyll in Renoir's garden, and the War, World War 1, going on right outside the garden fence.
Each time our Nymph, Andree, leaves the Renoir estate, to go home, we see glimpses from a whole different world: Dark, dirty, dangerous.
Finally there is the drama hidden in the fact, that Renoir loves one of his sons more than the other two.
The lucky object of fatherly love is his son Jean. But both sons( the third one being away to fight in the war) miss their Father to take an interest in them.
Old King Renoir is obviously infatuated with his muse, Andree, and his Son Jean is as well.
Young Jean realizes a love affair with Andree. This is where a drama might be expected, but turns out to be the least dramatic of it all: Old Renoir asks Young Renoir to arrange for Andree to move in with them, in order that life may go on undisturbed and peacefull.
Do yourself a favor and see this film.
Bodil Marie - In Remembrance of Things Past.
This film oozes attention to detail and looks absolutely fabulous shot in that wondrous orange sunlight that seems unique to those sun kissed shores of southern France. Much of the film was shot on the Renoir family estate at Cagnes-Sur-Mer, which certainly adds to the authentic feel. The paintings themselves are superb pieces of work by the famous art forger Guy Ribes. The famed French actor Michel Bouquet plays legendary French impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir and inhabits the role to perfection, looking exactly like the old pictures and film of Renoir himself. Christa Theret plays Renoirs model Andree Heuschling, and is charming in the role. Miss Theret was happy to bare all for the sake of art! Having a perfect figure may have made this decision easier for her! It all looks very beautiful, but is at the same time a rather listless and dull affair.
Set at Gagnes-Sur-Mer during World War 1, Renoir is in the process of painting his famous ‘Bathers’, when a new model comes to stay who changes the dynamics of the place especially when Renoir seniors son Jean turns up wounded from the war. The visual eye candy is unremitting capturing the essence of Renoir’s work in so many scenes with a stylish documentary like accuracy. Sadly this cannot completely distract from the lack of any real substance. The relationships are not really explored to any meaningful degree. I hoped for something deeper between father and son in what was clearly an awkward relationship. In Jean Renoir's book "Renoir, My Father" he mentions how much closer the two became when he returned home wounded, spending valuable time together. This is never really developed in the film, unless companionable silence counts! The love affair between Jean and Andree was also on the tepid side. It all seemed to need a hefty dose of passion to inject some real life into the characters. The film fails to entertain in the same way that Jean Renoir’s entertaining book does, a book from which it clearly borrowed. The films best scene where Renoir says that “flesh is all that matters”, was an obsession highlighted in that book! The films strength lies in its undoubted beauty but I was still left with the uneasy feeling that all that glitters is not gold, and found it a rather listless affair. Only my opinion of course!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 October 2014
I love it...it's all those much overworked reviewer remarks so frequently used but in this case it's true...wonderful lighting, gentle,beautifully filmed,fabulous 'am I in heaven' locations and directed with great care and love...excellent cast...generous acting..lovely colour...one of my most favourite movies ever and one I'll watch over and over...a joy indeed. It's could easily bring a tear to your eye.
Today I saw it on the big screen and can recommend you do to then view the DvD at home.
on 21 September 2015
This is a beautiful well acted film, with lovely settings and colours, which touches on the last few years of Renoir's life where age and infirmity are beginning to affect his ability to carry on painting. There are two main subplots, one involving the relationship between Renoir and his son, who was to become a great film maker, and the second, involving the son's relationship with Renoir's model, who he was destined to marry. There are also pleasant images of French cultural life set during the early years of the First World War, in a region unaffected by the fighting. I think the film is worth watching for its wonderful scenery and settings however, there will be one important problem for a number of film fans wanting to see Renoir, it is a French language film and there are no subtitles.
on 28 June 2014
Watching this was very much like having an afternoon nap under the sun and dozing off until night time or looking at a very beautiful painting for hours on end In other words very relaxing, beautiful and serene but ultimately very dull. The cinematography is very beautiful and as one reviewer said it is like a painting brought back to life but I found it too mundane for my taste.
What I did like above all is the way it captured the ordinariness of everyday interaction within an extraordinary setting , the mixture of film and art within its themes and subtext and how each member of the Renoir family found their inspirations but it is not a film I would watch again.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
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 an atmosphere that tells us more about the characters, and the Renoir's art than all the dialogue combined. (blu-ray is definitely recommended).
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.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 6 December 2013
French screenwriter, producer and director Gilles Bourdos` seventh feature film 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 humerous 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.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 19 November 2013
Considering the write-ups this film had received from the critics I was expecting a bit more about Renoir and a little less scenery.It is a visual treat and you do get a feel for the period,but to be honest the story line goes no-where fast and you're left with the 'impression' that you haven't really delved any deeper into the mans character at all...