Imagine how daunting it must have been to make Renoir. We'll be expecting every frame to radiate old bourgeois serenity like a painting by the famous Impressionist father, every group dynamic to go over as gracefully as those put on by the famous filmmaker son. Gallantly, at least, director Gilles Bourdos gives an inviting impression of himself having summered in the leafy, sun-soaked French Riviera about a century ago, where his movie's action takes place. That's assuming "action" isn't too strong a word. Here, Renoir père et fils, Pierre-Auguste (Michel Bouquet) and Jean (Vincent Rottiers) find themselves coping in parallel with bodily letdowns — the elder's from age and arthritis, the younger's from a war injury — and tending to do a lot of gazing, particularly at one Andrée Heuschling (Christa Théret), that shapely, self-possessed model for the former who would become the latter's star and wife. Aesthetic philosophies do emerge, with Auguste making pronouncements ("Flesh! That's all that matters!") and Jean observing provocations (Andrée asks, "You want to eat me?") with a sort of preparatory attention, but without verbal reply. Meanwhile, gradual camera moves promote metabolic slowdown, and Alexandre Desplat's score seems to say, "Viewers who liked Downton Abbey...." On guard against sentimentalism, Bourdos does let in enough of the gorgeous and sexy stuff. It is a French movie, after all.
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