Renoir is film about the artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir and his last days on earth. If you don't know who that is, that's the artist that everyone will inevitably confuse with Édouard Manet, because art man, its all like images and junk.
In this film there are actors who portray people that I didn't know existed and don't really care about. The plot is a series of events in the story that drive the overall narrative. This is also clearly a film for people who do not really spend a great deal of time thinking about or being involved with art, because there are a lot of references to art that I suspect are incorrect. I say that I suspect because I do not spend my time around art nor do I really care. Paintings, and I've seen a lot, are incredibly boring. I do like Marc Chagall.
Now, don't get me wrong here. This is still a movie you should watch, unless of course, you are an artist, in which case this movie will probably make you roll your eyes a lot. Also probably don't watch this if you know a whole lot about Renoir's life because its probably also wrong there? I don't actually know enough to look it up. Where was I? Oh right. Sorry, it seems I got sidetracked a little bit with an ultimately irrelevant plot about the youngest of Renoir's sons. Whoops. Spoilers!
Its okay, because the point of this film isn't the narrative. Its not the acting, nor is it the sound design, nor the soundtrack itself, nor the framing, nor the writing. Also don't expect a really compelling story. Or to get a really cool view of France during the war contrasted with the idealized world of Renoir's paintings. No, what you get is a really well designed movie in terms of visuals.
Renoir feels like you are inside of a painting in a way that is subtle enough that you don't hate the film when you notice it. Everything is in a nice soft focus, the colors are vibrant and enjoyable, and the ass are plump and plentiful. I'm not joking about that. I have seen less ass in a Mexican Donkey show. I love the French and their propensity for beautiful naked women, who have a scene which makes them seem like they're in to S/M? Oh wait no quick cut to the next shot, we don't want our audience getting interested in this character!
How's the acting?
Acting comes in many shapes and sizes. There are two types of actors that I like. On a serious, "I-am-being-very-pretentious-about-this" level I want actors to embody the characters they play. The actor should at no point overshadow their role. I should not be more easily able to recall the name of the actor than the name of the character during the middle of the film. A great example of this style is someone like Joseph Gordon-Levitt. While he has the famous thing going, which gives him facial recognition, he doesn't overshadow his characters. Its not Joe from 3rd Rock from the Sun kid off solving adventures. Okay sometimes it is.
The second style that I really like is when an actor is so big the character just withers and dies and the actor just sort of overwhelms the lines. Its the polar opposite of embodiment. Its every role Leonardo diCaprio has been in recently. Remember that part of Django Fett Unchained where he cut his hand and then traumatized a woman? That was nuts! Alternatively, and for a much better actor, think of every role Nicolas Cage has ever been in. Even in his really great films, the stuff that can win awards, he's still wayyyyyy bigger than his character.
Renoir has none of these styles. The acting is lukewarm. Its acceptable. At no point was I angry. The french are apparently really bad at communicating emotions through their faces and crying on command.
How's the cinematography?
Flat out fucking acceptable. There is framing. It is present. In the very beginning of the movie, before the director got tired or drunk, there were a few shots that had meaning. When Jean Renoir returns home from his injury, there's a really nice shot of his father being wheeled in to the doorway. It gives a nice feel for their relationship; the compact framing let's the audience know that Jean has been both striving to meet his father's reputation and been confined by it, and how he truly can't reach his potential if his father is still in the way. Its a really good shot, probably the best one in the movie that doesn't involve nipples or ass cheeks.
But, before you get excited, that is basically the only exceptional shot in the film. There's other times when the whole scene is framed in a way that might seem meaningful but it really just doesn't have anything to it besides "looks cool." Which is fine. This is a movie that is all about the looks because the substance isn't there. Its an almost two hour long painting that you watch and the nature of the camera is to display that, not display character growth.
Its actually sort of depressing that despite the cinematography being pretty mediocre, its still way better than most movies I've seen recently. The last time I had seen a well framed shot was back in fucking Man on the Moon. Can you believe how much our standards have laxed? Now you can just film whatever and if you make the subject matter appeal to people and put in some CGI bullshit I guess you can get away with whatever lazy camerawork you feel like.
Man, at least Renoir attempts to do something. Its certainly not unique but it is an objective. Film it like a painting. Great, got it. Does it achieve that? Yes. Awesome. There is something happening with the visuals that is communicating information to the audience even if the information is "this is a painting please stop paying attention to our undeveloped script."
How much nudity is in this film that you can totally and utterly remove any artistic value from?
There's an asston of nudity, pun intended.
I don't even care if its artistic. I like movies where people get naked, partially because nobody brings kids to movies with nudity. Except Watchmen.
I'm still holding out on a really shitty b-movie where a woman with comically large breasts has to team up with a man who has an 18 inch dick that is in a constant state of arousal have to fight off a bunch of ninjas. At no point in the movie do they have sex, and they don't even mention the fact that they are both nude the entire film.
Renoir isn't like that. But hey, the nudity is actually tasteful, though they do spend a lot of time on it. Actually wait. They spend a LOT of time on it. Hmmm...
What's the best part of the film?
The weird, totally out of place den of sin scene.
So it comes late in the film, but Jean Renoir decides to rescue his attractive white girlfriend from her own free will to choose how to live her life, because women shouldn't be allowed to make their own choices. She is holed up in this weird half brothel/half drag bar with two lesbians in identical haircuts who dance.
The scene is so wonky and out of place in a movie that has been an idealized view of the French Riveria you can't help but be entertained. Its such a visual jolt that comes with absolutely no context - not even a name for the place - that you just sort of watch the entire scene in a sort of bemused state of confusion.
There's this dude with a super burned face and I don't know why he's there!
What's the worst scene?
The first dinner with Jean Renoir. Its three characters at a table. Talking. While eating.
Shot in shot-reverse-shot. Its just lazy. Come on now.
Any final words?
Yeah, this movie feels way longer than it is. Don't watch this if you like movies that are fast paced. I love myself a nice slow crawling film but this shit just moves at a snails pace.
It also seems way smarter than it is when you leave the theater, and by the time you get home you realize that its not actually intelligent, its just that the director lost track of where the Narrative was going. Also the editor forgot to remove some scenes or something.
There's a scene where the youngest kid throws what I can only assume is powder for blue paint on the naked girl. I don't understand why that's there and she never once acknowledges that it happened. So. Uhm. I guess....blue. Because...colors?
Oblivion - Needs Horse Armor! Apollo 18 - Projectile vomit! Renoir - Its aight.
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