25 December 2013 | feodoric
Renoir: cinema as an impressionist art form
This film is deliberately full of short scenes without apparent rational purposes. If there was one or maybe two such scenes, one might see those as plot holes or dead ends, i.e. as flaws.
Personally, I see this film as an impressionistic film about a famous impressionist painter. The very thin storyline along with the numerous vignettes of the daily life of a painter, his model, his sons and his family/maids (eating, painting, cooking, talking about this and that, sleeping alone or together, bathing, or simply being idle), all filmed with the extraordinary beauty of the Côte d'Azur and its unique light which drew so many painters to the region: everything concurs to making of this film a painting on film. A painting that uses the impressionist technique: myriads of small brush strokes of colours which seem out of place, unexpected or even plain wrong, whose purpose we understand only when we look at the overall canvas once finished. Renoir is such a painting.
This is a masterpiece. I found it as mesmerizing as the most beautiful impressionist paintings, whether they are by Renoir or Monet, Degas or Cézanne. I was literally transfigured by the sheer beauty of the images, and could not care less for the meaning of every little strokes of this large fresco of the beauty of nature in that region blessed by a magic sunlight... There is no pace when contemplating a painting. Everything else stops while one immerses oneself into it.
And if there is one overall purpose for this movie, it is contained in the short epilogue shown at the end of the film. Jean Renoir became the famous film director of international renown, and this movie conveys the circumstances -mostly his relationship with Andrée - that led him to take this career at a time when he saw himself as mere canon fodder with nothing else after the war had ended. There are several ways to tell a story, and this is a new one. The originality of Renoir (2012), what makes this movie so unique is that it transposes a painting technique to cinema.
Do not expect much action. As Pierre-Auguste Renoir says in the movie (paraphrasing) as an almost zen principle: "Do not interfere with the course of nature: picture yourself as a cork carried over by a stream, and let yourself slip away slowly as time flows by...". This is exactly how one should watch that extraordinary movie. A healthy film for the soul.