So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer
nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being
renewed day by day.
2 Corinthians 4:16
French director Gilles Bourdos’s film, set during the latter days of Impressionist artist Pierre-August Renoir’s (Michel Bouquet) life, is more of a father-son film than a biographical one. Youngest son Jean (Vincent Rottiers), wounded in the trenches of World War 1, returns to the family estate on the coast of the French Riviera. He hasn’t a clue as to what he wants to do after the War.
Central to his discovering this, as well as the artistic re-awakening of the arthritic-plagued father, barely able to hold a paintbrush, is teenaged Andrée (Christa Theret), the beauty destined to be the great artist’s last model and Jean’s muse and first wife, leading him to become one of the great filmmakers of France. Gorgeous photography (which includes brief nudity while Andrée poses), joined with superb acting by all, makes this a “must” for art lovers.
1. Although we do not see any battle scenes, how does World War One loom over the idyllic scenes in the south of France? In other words, what are we shown of its effects on those fighting it? Jean and his brother; other soldiers?
2. What seems to be the painter’s view of the war? Do you think his statement about his paintings also reveals this? “Why shouldn’t art be pretty? There are enough unpleasant things in the world.” (Note that it is reported that he refused to use black paint in any of his works.)
3. How would you describe the relationship of the father and son? How does Andrée affect this relationship? How does she mean something different to each one?
4. How is Andrée’s affect on the father and son a secular version of what the apostle Paul says about Christ’s affect on believers?