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‘Renoir’ masters the look of great drama

Michel Bouquet (below) plays the artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Vincent Rottiers (above with Christa Theret) is his son Jean.
Michel Bouquet (below) plays the artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Vincent Rottiers (above with Christa Theret) is his son Jean.Samuel Goldwyn Films

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Renoir

Renoir” doesn’t get much beneath the surface — but, good God, what a surface. A leisurely-paced Great Artist drama about the last years of an Impressionist giant, this French import is set on the Cote D’Azur in the summer of 1915, when the palette of nature has run riot. The shots bloom with ochers and vermilions and siennas and cerulean, brushed onto the screen by master cinematographer Mark Ping Bing Lee (“In the Mood for Love”). There are camera pans across a row of freshly caught fish and gleaming ripe peppers chopped by women singing ancient peasant songs. Sensuality is the film’s theory and practice, its subject and objective, and the result comes mightily close to synesthesia. This is a movie set on capturing the sound of the sunlight and the colors of the wind.

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