‘Renoir’ Movie Review – The Artist and His Muse
Bio-pics are only as interesting as their subject, or, in the case of the new French film, Renoir, the people in their subject’s life. But even if those people are young and beautiful, that doesn’t guarantee a film in which anything actually happens, especially when, like the paintings of the man in question, the picture is blurred ever so slightly.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, one of the world’s greatest Impressionists is brought to life by veteran French actor Michel Bouquet, who gave a wonderful performance as the artist in the final years of his life, but even his talents couldn’t overcome a rather slow script. Set in 1915, Renoir’s life is momentarily rejuvenated by the appearance of Andree (Christa Therat), a young, rather scandalous girl who takes a job modeling for Renoir’s nudes. In his earlier years, something more might have happened between them, but instead it is Renoir’s son, Jean (Vincent Rottiers) who catches Andree’s eye when he returns from the battlefield due to an injury.
As in real life, Andree and Jean strike up a relationship, one that would go on to result in marriage and the start of a film career for them both, but in this film, they are simply young lovers whose only real challenge comes when Jean re-enlists in the army. Perhaps that is the problem when a writer chooses to remain faithful to historical events; history will thank him or her, but an audience might long for something more dramatic.
One thing the film has going for it…it’s absolutely breathtaking. The whole story takes place within the gorgeous confines of Renoir’s country home on the coast of the French Rivera, and there is no shortage of pastoral beauty, not to mention the occasional extended bit of female nudity. It is never gratuitous. Rather, one feels as if they are looking at a living work of art.
As for the art itself, director Gilles Bourdos hired an actual art forger (straight out of jail for forgery!) to create the Renior works in progress that are present within the film. It’s almost hard to believe that the man was caught; his paintings give the film an air of authenticity.
But, in the end, all the beauty can’t cover up a script that ultimately has little to no dramatic tension, and even the moments that are thrown in with Andree fighting against unknown demons from her past, can’t save the film from dragging to an abrupt conclusion. With many unanswered questions and vague notations, at the very least this film might inspire curious viewers to look into the life of a remarkable painter, his filmmaker son, and the woman who inspired them both.
Renoir opens in limited release on Friday, March 29th.