Renoir review by George Hooper - Cinema Paradiso
It’s funny that one of the most expendable and unimportant characters in Renoir is Renoir himself. The story chronicles his later life but really depicts the effect the arrival of a young woman has on him and his household. unexpected and ever so slightly pointless, Renoir is a story of love in its many forms and the appreciation of everything beautiful.
The film follows the arrival of Andree (Christa Theret) and the effect she has on the estate of renowned painter Pierre Auguste Renoir (Michel Bouquet). She applies to be his new model but when his son Jean (Vincent Rottiers) returns she finds herself between the two as she begins to change the lives of the people living in the Renoir house.
A slow but steady love affair is chronicled as Andree begins to integrate herself into the household. Theret’s Andree is a confusing woman, one filled with amibition, greed and strong opinions but still an extremely loving and devoted woman. She doesn’t control the men around her but enhance them as Pierre gains some of his vitality back and Jean finds a touchstone to bring him back from the frontlines of the war.
Detailed and beautifully filmed, Renoir is a pretty picture but an incomplete one. The ideas it has are half baked and nowhere near developed enough but there is no denying the simple power of the story and the slowly encroaching effect of the war Pierre is too old to fight. Although the film tries to sideline the importance of the war and Pierre tries to ignore it, the film feels like the calm before the storm in many ways, the story Andree, Jean and Pierre are putting off.
The film ends on a sombre note and one that leaves many questions but it feels right to end on a feeling of ambiguity as if the painting and imagination that Andree brought back to life will carry on after this story ends.