Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), masterful champion of “Impressionism” is brilliantly depicted by Michel Bouquet in Gilles Bourdos film about the legendary painter at the conclusion of his life, in tandem with his second son “Jean” (1894-1979, destined to be the iconic filmmaker), at the commencement of his, (Vincent Rottiers); linked by “Andree” (Christa Theret) the luminous, endorphin-infused, final muse of Renoir and the passionate enlightenment of Jean’s. Magnificent subtlety, between Renoir’s physical depletion and psychological angst of watching his son assume the role he always deemed his; Jean’s sensitivity to his father’s arthritic, rheumatic, crippled hands. It is 1915, Jean has been wounded in the war; his injuries will mend; Renoir, doomed.
The film, like Renoir’s canvases, pulsates with light, color; red-haired Andree is the metaphor for all the lush, pneumatic, pulchritude nudes who throb, even to this day, from his sumptuous canvases. (In close-ups, Guy Ribes, infamous art forger, performs the strokes of the genius.)
Languidly paced, “Renoir” moves ploddingly through one monotonous, sizzling summer day after another; referencing the temperature of a myriad of Renoir’s works. Cinematographer Ping Bing Lee succeeds in enveloping the viewer in the warmth of a bygone era; the healing magic of a kissing breeze, cuddling softness of a shaded tree; tingling sweetness of a shallow brook.
Leonardo da Vinci stated that “painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.” “Renoir” marries the two beautifully.
THREE & 1/2 STARS!!!