Matt Shiverdecker watched
Mary Elizabeth Winstead is remarkable as a young woman coming face to face with her alcoholism and a partner who is clearly not willing to face his own demons. Flawed, but dynamic. When the end credits start to roll, the film is only at 1 hour and 15 minutes, a blessing and a curse. It feels like the perfect spot to end the story and simultaneously does not feel like it's dug deep enough.
Matt Shiverdecker watched
Director Gilles Bourdos recreates the sunkissed summer of 1915 for this biopic of Pierre-Auguste Renoir (Michel Bouquet in a remarkably understated performance).
Renoir refrains from being a full retrospective of a man who was once at the forefront of the Impressionist movement. It takes us instead to only a few months of his later years, where he's ravaged by arthritis and mourning the death of his wife. Two of his sons are off at war and he's living in the countryside with his moody teenage son Coco (Thomas Doret, The Kid With A Bike) and a host of women who keep up his estate and wellbeing.
Renoir is mostly focusing on still-life paintings at this point in his life, but the arrival of a beautiful red-headed woman named Andrée (Christa Theret) takes him back to nude portraits. Even though his hands are frail and he requires focused assistance to squeeze the colors out of his paint tubes, this new muse seems to bring him back to life. The dynamic changes once his 21-year-old son Jean (Vincent Rottiers) returns from World War I with an injured leg and becomes smitten with Andrée.
Taiwanese cinematographer Mark Lee Ping-Bin (In The Mood For Love, Norwegian Wood) shoots the film in golden hues filled with sumptuous scenery. Almost every shot looks as though it could be placed in a frame and put on the wall next to one of the classic paintings depicted.
The screenplay is not as in-depth as one might hope, only scratching the surface of the complex relationships involved. Andrée never fully develops as a character much beyond that of a temptress who doesn't mind taking her clothes off. The style alone is enough to recommend the film, but there's no question that you have to be patient and allow this one to unfold. There are even a few thinly veiled references to Jean's later career as a director, some more obvious than others.
A few of the film's early reviews criticized its pacing as excessively turgid, but I would have gladly spent more time with this fractured family, watching as a creative genius struggles with the aging process.