Do you want to hear something crazy? J and I had only seen three movies in the theater together: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “Taken 2,” and “Lincoln.” I don’t really know how to justify that, so we’ll just move along to this past weekend, when we went out for pizza and then saw “Renoir” at the Ritz, upping our count to four. A few weeks ago I’d checked the showtimes for the movie “Trance” when I found out about “Renoir,” and it jumped to the top of my must-see list.



It’s a stunning movie, soaked in sunlight and filmed on the French Riviera. Renoir has always been one of my favorite artists, ever since I was a (total art-snob) kid (I once stormed out of a Picasso exhibit at three, declaring the work to be “dreck.” What can I say, I guess I preferred Impressionism even back then) and this movie did not disappoint. It focuses on the later years of his life, after the arthritis has made walking and even painting a painful undertaking (“And what will you do when you can no longer use your hands?” his doctor asks in one scene. “I’ll paint with my dick,” he responds). Both Renoir and his oldest son Jean fall under the spell of Andrée, the beautiful model who serves as the artist’s muse. The film is slow and languid, the way artsy movies are allowed to be, with long camera pans across fields set to gorgeous orchestral music. There was one scene where Renoir moves to clean his paintbrush, and the whole screen is a tight shot of just the water in the glass, the orange paint swirling like smoke as he dips his brush in, once, twice. Obviously I got teary-eyed. Come on, did you expect anything less?

In the film, Renoir says that his work is cheerful because, “there are enough disagreeable things in life. I don’t need to create more.” Part of what makes his work so beautiful is how simply lovely and sweet each piece is, without ever looking cheap or easy. Happy, beautiful women, proud men, flowers, people enjoying life. I’m reminded of the movie “Amelie,” where Raymond Dufayel (“the glass man”) spends his time cooped up in his apartment, replicating “Luncheon of the Boating Party,” wondering what each person in the painting is thinking. (And also, the scene where he becomes so exasperated with Lucien talking about Lady Di all the time that he yells, “‘Lady Di! Lady Di!’ RENOIR!”)


But perhaps his most famous work is “The Bathers” which he painted in the last year of his life. Do you know what I’ll be doing in the last year of my life? Not creating things like this:


There was one scene that alluded heavily to this painting, with Andrée and another model laying in the grass, posed similarly.

I loved it, needless to say. I’m not sure how much longer it will be in the theater, so I’m happy to have had a chance to see it. Hopefully it will have a DVD release as well, and though I’d like it I’m not holding my breath for a soundtrack.

15 thoughts on “Renoir

  1. And here it is! Monday’s post! We’re not movie goers either, really. It changes a little when you have kids, although we still don’t go as much as other families. When we find one we like, we tend to watch the crap out of it. (Read: Oceans.) (Or, more recently, Amadeus.)

    This looks delightful. I love Renoir’s work, and for just why he painted it. The light, the sun, the joy. I tend to avoid darker books and movies for just his reasons too. Who needs more dark? Seriously. I’ve had enough lately.

    1. I get “stuck” on movies, too, plus I like being able to watch things in a totally reclined position, preferably in sweatpants. Not really smiled upon in public, so we rent a lot of movies at home. I’m okay with it, but there are definite perks to a true “dinner and a movie” type date nights. xo

  2. I am so eager to see this film! Renoir is one of my favorite artist. I love M. Dufayel’s interpretation of the girl with the glass in Amelie! If you haven’t read it already, Susan Vreeland’s Luncheon of the Boating Party is a great book.

    1. I love “Amelie” and Dufayel’s focus on that single girl in the painting is so tender. Okay, it’s official, I need to watch that movie again, it’s been over a month. Hah! Thank you for the recommendation! That book had somehow escaped my radar, so I appreciate the tip!! xo

  3. oooo, this looks so good! i just love the sounds of their voices, that would be enough for me. i prefer foreign films, i mean i watch almost anything, but i don’t consider most any good for more than strictly entertainment. i love the slowness of most foreign films. i love long scenes, and close-ups, and the lack of a constant sound-track in the background so you can hear the movement of people and their breathing, the clanking of dishes – it’s those things that really draw you in and give you a true experience. i can’t believe i haven’t heard of this. criminal! i can’t tell you how many times i have seen the preview for the great gatsby by now.

    i do love that he painted things of beauty and joy but i have to admit i like dark things as well. i think this self-portrait is one of my most favorites of his:


    1. Is it wrong that part of the magic was just listening to them speak French? Non? There was a lot of that ambient noise you talked about, slicing of vegetables, clinking of dishes, rustling of curtains in the open breeze…so beautiful. You would really adore this movie, I think.

      That self-portrait is stunning. I like a man who can rock a scarf. xo

  4. “there are enough disagreeable things in life. I don’t need to create more.” sums up pretty much how i feel about blogging & why, in general, i try and stick with the good bits life has to offer… :)

  5. I haven’t seen a movie like this in so long – Beautifully slow moving and character driven. Well, you and Christine describe it much better than me. I love listening to all the background sounds in a movie too. It’s those details that really bring a movie to life. I had no idea this movie was even made much less out in theaters. So, thank you!
    PS~That parking video was painfully funny. I laughed when one of the guys says, “Day five … Day Six.”

    1. Don’t feel bad, I’d never have known it either had I not been looking for something else! That’s the way life works though, right? :) It’s truly a gem of a movie, and days later I’m still thinking about it.

      How funny was the commentary on that parking video?? Those guys were ruthless but it was so true! That poor woman. xo

  6. I didn’t even know about this film! Looks fab. And I have to say I’ve never seen the bathers painting?? I know the one with the ladies under the awning best.
    We never used to go to the cinema (or the ‘flicks’ as my parents used to call it) but since we moved we have a posh cinema up the road with leather armchairs and they serve prosecco and ginger cake. We’ve been going a lot more and Richard even made me see the silver romance love is all you need. umm.

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