Watching Renoir was a remarkable experience for me. The actors are wonderful, but the real stars of this film are light and color. A day after seeing it, I’m still intoxicated by the images. If time permitted, I might try to binge on other films photographed by Ping Bin Lee.
At first, this seems the end of life story of the great Impressionist painter (one whose work I have always favored) Pierre-August Renoir, but eventually it becomes a story of père et fils when middle son Jean returns home to recover from his war injuries.
Two great artists are inspired by the same muse, the lovely Andrée, as the father’s last model moves the son toward filmmaking as a way to realize her own ambitions. She closes the career of one Renoir and helps launch that of another. What a lovely but complex figure she is in this narrative.
Some may find the pace too slow and the story too fragmented or too slight, but I think the film evokes the aesthetic that informs the older Renoir’s paintings and some of the themes that inform the younger Renoir’s films.
It is 1915, and the world is at war but the French Riviera is breathtaking. It is a contrast the father ignores and the son cannot. The son will take his early interests in painting and in film and marry them to bring us many films including the classics The Grand Illusion and The Rules of the Game.
I wonder why it is not called Renoirs.