Renoir (2012): Gilles Bourdos’ Biopic of the Celebrated French Artist

Cannes Film Fest 2012 (Un Certain Regard)–

The handsome looking biopic, Renoir, chronicles the celebrated French artist’s twilight years, and his relationship with his son, the future director Jean Renoir (“Grand Illusion,” “Rules of the Game”).

The tale also deals with the two men’s relationship with Andrée, the painter’s final muse, who became the future wife of Jean.

One of the film’s most interesting and subtle aspects, in the text and subtext, was a demonstration of the intimate and rather logical link between the father’s paintings and his son’s movies.

World-premiering at the 2012 Cannes Film Fest’s Un Certain Regard and featured Lincoln Center’s Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, “Renoir” will be released March 29 in New York and Los Angeles in a platform mode, followed by a national release.

Set on the French Riviera in in the summer of 1915, Gilles Bourdos’ lushly atmospheric drama Renoir tells the story of celebrated Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir, in declining health, at the age 74, and that of his middle son Jean, who returns home to convalesce after being wounded in World War I.

The elder Renoir is filled with a new, wholly unexpected energy when a young girl somehow quite miraculously enters his world. Blazing with life, radiantly beautiful, Andrée (César-nominated newcomer Christa Théret) will go on to become his last model, and the wellspring of a remarkable rejuvenation.

At the same time, Jean also falls under the spell of the free-spirited young Andrée.

Their beautiful home and majestic countryside grounds reverberate with familial intrigue, as both Renoirs, père et fils, become smitten with the enchanting and headstrong young muse. “Renoir” locates a fascinating, strategic moment of change, one century’s way of thinking giving way to the next, and the passing of the torch from a great painter to the great filmmaker of such classics as “Grand Illusion” and “Rules of the Game.”

One of the most beloved actors in French cinema, Michel Bouquet has been gracing screens since 1947. He has worked multiple times with Claude Chabrol, as well as Alain Resnais, and Francois Truffaut, among many others. Widely acclaimed for his 2005 portrayal of the former French President, François Mitterrand, Bouquet is the recipient of two Césars (thenFrench Oscars) as well as a European Film Award for Best Actor.

As befits a film about a seminal painter and a seminal filmmaker, Renoir is gorgeous to look at.

Delicately capturing the Mediterranean light and landscapes, “Renoir” was shot by acclaimed Taiwanese-born cinematographer Mark Ping Bing Lee.  Bing Lee is best known as the collaborator of celebrated director Hou Hsiao-Hsien (Flight of the Red Balloon,) and Wong Kar Wai (In the Mood for Love, for which he won the NSFC and NYFCC Best Cinematography Awards together with Christopher Doyle).

Renoir is the fourth feature from the talented New York-based director-writer Gilles Bourdos, whose previous films have included “Disparus,” his directorial debut shown at the 1998 Cannes Film Fest’s Directors’ Fortnight, and the English-language “Afterwards,” starring John Malkovich and Romain Duris.

The film’s score was written by the prolific, Oscar-nominated composer Alexandre Desplat.

End Note:

The paintings in the film were created by the master forger Guy Ribes upon his release from jail.