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