Renoir Review

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Impressionist superstar Augustine Renoir (Bouquet) struggles to maintain his creativity vitality in the face of his advancing years and the ravages war has wrought on his family.


Painter biopics so often revert to tortured artist melodrama, so Gilles Bourdos’ hushed portrait is something of a middlebrow relief. Set on the French Riviera in 1915, the film offers two Renoirs for the price of one: fading arthritic impressionist Augustine (Michel Bouquet) and son Jean (Vincent Rottiers), convalescing from the Great War and falling for one of his father’s models (Christa Theret). While Bourdo captures the master at work in intimate, delicate detail, as drama it’s a little unsure of itself, its sensuality lying in its pastoral vision of Renoir’s Riviera and its languid, trance-like pace.

As pastoral as the great painter's works, if unlikely to be as enduring, this biopic has a pleasing gloss and fascinating studio scenes to commend it.