Tag Archives: Christa Theret

Stranger than Fiction


by Hope Madden

Nothing ever changes. That appears to be the sentiment behind Olivier Assayas’s chamber dramedy Non-Fiction, a tale set in the middle of the dying publishing industry, a relic that either needs to embrace digital disruption or die trying.

Or does it?

Hard to say, although a lot is being said. This is perhaps Assayas’s talkiest and most Parisian film to date. And yet, it’s breezy and honest. It’s also cagey and cynical.

What Non-Fiction is depends on your mood, perhaps, because every scene unfolds in about thirty ways. Jubilant performances buoy whip-smart writing that skewers the very platitudes it seems to be promoting.

Novelist and lazy anarchist Leonard (Vincent Macaigne) prefers to ever-so-slightly tweak his own daily life and liaisons than create characters and plots. Unfortunately, the audience at large – and his friend and editor Alain (Guillaume Canet – incredible) in particular – have grown weary. Is it even fiction? And do the women so thinly veiled in the works have any right to their own stories?

Does it even matter? Audio books and eReaders are the hot tickets now, or so says Laure (Christa Théret), sent to the publisher to drum up excitement for a digital transformation.

Well, Alain’s wife Selena (Juliette Binoche, also spectacular) prefers real, concrete books. She’s an actress coming to terms with bingeable cop shows rather than stage work, except when she’s not.

Valerie (Nora Hamzawi) turns out to be the only straightforward and entirely decent character in the film. The fact that she is A) the only one entirely outside of entertainment and publishing, and B) indeed in politics, allows Assays to say quite a lot about his feelings for the industry.

And as everyone talks and talks and desperately talks about changing paradigms in taste, consumption and art, they are eating, drinking and having sex. Because truly, some things do not change—especially in French films.

Assayas keeps his incredibly verbose scenes aloft with a wandering camera that feels like another guest at the party. Bright, funny, biting performances highlight actors who relish the challenge of bringing the script to life. Binoche is at her slippery best.

Non-Fiction toes the line of being too smart for its own good, of losing its audience for its serpentine commentary. But it never does. Assayas and his savvy foursome are having too much fun themselves for their effort to do anything other than entertain.

Pretty as a Picture


By Hope Madden

Want to see something pretty? Gilles Bourdos has your movie. His latest effort, Renoir, offers a lush imagining of one summer in the great Impressionist’s waning years.

Bourdos’s eye for sumptuous, colorful beauty creates its own work of art worthy of the topic. Hopefully the bathing, posing and lunching in the lush backdrop is enough entertainment for you, though, because Bourdos is more in this for the picturesque glory of it than for any hard storytelling.

Yes, his story is slight. Within what amounts to an extended family gathering, what tale there is centers on the new life brought to the group by the artist’s final muse, and his son’s first.

Christa Theret plays Andee, a fiery beauty who reinvigorates the old painter and beguiles his son Jean. Theret injects Bourdos’s restrained loveliness with what drama it has to offer, and her performance matches her beauty.

Michel Bouquet offers an authentic, curmudgeonly turn as Renoir the elder, while the smitten Jean (Vincent Rotthiers) and the unhappy Coco (Thomas Doret, so wonderful in The Kid with a Bike) likewise benefit from solid performances.

But, like the Renoir men, you’ll miss Theret when she’s not around because everything else is a bit too tame.

Throughout the whole serene, gorgeous, relatively uneventful 111 minutes, the most interesting bits involve the actual act of painting. Bourdos’s camera often squares on the image of a bandaged, arthritic old hand as it dabbled white onto a canvas with the muted figures of an image you’ve certainly seen before. How did he manage to capture the active recreation of famous works in their early stages?

He hired Guy Ribes, a convicted art forger once jailed for faking Renoir works, to act as Renoir’s hands. Nice!

Such is the length the filmmaker is willing to go to create a film that looks for all the world like a Renoir. It doesn’t do much else, to be honest, but if you are looking for a lulling and lovely way to waste a couple hours, here’s your film.


For more complete information on the artist, visit Artsy’s Pierre-Auguste Renoir page HERE