Saturday, April 6, 2013

Renoir: Skin Flick

"Flesh! That's all that really matters," Pierre-August Renoir tells us at the beginning and end of this gorgeous biopic about his final years.

And like his French Impressionist paintings that still inspire wonder after 200 years, this film is full of flesh. Sumptuous, sensual, shimmering skin. In fact, the genius of this exquisite movie is that it's like walking into a Renoir canvas. Oh that we really could.

Still, there is a plot. It's 1915 and the famous artist is old, infirm and a widower. He lives in a luxurious farmhouse in Cagnes-sur-Mer on the Cote d'Azur, attended to by a bevy of beauties. Many are former models who've become cooks, housekeepers and nurses.

The status quo is soon upended by a new model who comes to pose. She's a spirited teenager with dreams of becoming an actress. Renoir's son Jean returns from war, injured and confused.

Yes, that Jean Renoir, the cinematographer, who gave us "The Rules of the Game" and "The Human Beast," to name just two.

You can guess who was his first inspiration. Or you can see this movie and marvel.

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