Somewhere in the history of film someone must have decided that the purpose of creating a movie is to tell a story, seems common sense don’t you think? Over the same passage of time we have had some amazing tales, stories that will cause you to shed tears, stories that win your heart, and then you have Renoir.
Renoir is one of a long string of artists that have been celebrated by the medium of film over the last forty years. You can argue that true stories often have the most interesting tales, but then there is Renoir.
Set in a summer during 1915, afflicted artist Pierre-August Renoir (Michael Bouquet) has lost his inspiration. His wife is dead, his most recent muse gone, Renoir spends his days painting fruit, and napping. Into his life comes Andree (Christa Theret), a very different forward thinking young lady. Renoir sees a beauty in Andree and immediately sparks begin to fly, paint hits the canvases like never before, Renoir has discovered the thing of beauty he much needs. When Renoir’s son Jean (Vincent Rottiers) returns home maimed on the front line of war, he too sees the beauty in Andree, and it’s this beauty that causes cracks to appear elsewhere.
Renoir is a beautifully shot movie, each scene beautifully framed scene looks like the creation of a masterpiece of art. Director Gilles Bourdos has created a lavishly shot piece of cinematic brilliance, in vision that is at least.
The biggest issue with Renoir is that its story also written by Bourdos simply lacks power. It’s difficult to pump life into a story that lacks some entertainment value, you can’t rewrite history unless you want to bastardise the memory of some great people. The key however is if you struggle to captivate ytour audience is not to keep them too long. At 70 minutes Renoir would have made a far more interesting story, but at a little under two hours it’s almost painful to endure. It’s one of those movies you could happily nod off halfway through and not feel like you have missed anything.
The film is not helped by the fact that it is a foreign language production, and for an English speaker you are already on the back foot unless you watch foreign language films all the time. But there is something more to it than that, if you are a little bit understanding of the foreign language in question you might find some flaws in the translation, and for this reviewer this added to the annoyance of an already very average film.
Renoir looks beautiful and has much potential, but its poorly transcribed for the English language, and an overly long experience. If you have passion for the artist you may well oversea the flaws, if you do not, those flaws are blinding.
Renoir is in UK cinemas from 28th of June.