Renoir 13/05/30 2:58
With all the characters in place, the film serenely observes their quiet life on the farm, and the underlying tensions, between the young woman and the men who all love her in different ways, between brothers, and between father and sons. Christa Theret plays Dédee, and she appears to be just the kind of model that the real Dédee might have been, while avoiding the danger of being a mere object of male desire with her fine, mercurial, headstrong performance. Vincent Rottiers is suitably reflective and vulnerable as Jean Renoir, and he even looks a little like the great film director as a young man. But it is the veteran actor Michel Bouquet as the old man Renoir, referred to by everyone as "the Boss" who dominates the picture, with his slow lumbering mannerisms, his piercing eyes over a full beard, and his grand, deep voice. This is a film about art, and what makes an artist—for Renoir, it is all about the temporal beauty of flesh, and nature with its brilliant colors. It is the gorgeous countryside that, in the end, is the movie's real star. The great Taiwanese cinematographer Mark Ping Bin Lee makes the entire film look like a Renoir painting in motion. This is the most visually beautiful film I've seen in quite some time.
Renoir doesn't argue for or against anything, but lets us observe the contrasts of youth and age, suffering and beauty, for ourselves. It is also a belated tribute to a woman, Dédee, later known in her film performances as Catherine Hessling, without whom we may not have had the career of one of the world's greatest directors, Jean Renoir. Renoir lingers in the mind after you see it, radiating both happiness and wistful regret.