In the sumptuously filmed French drama "Renoir," a muse arrives to inspire two generations of artists while the audience is left wishing a similarly gifted muse had helped director Gilles Bourdos develop a more compelling narrative.
It's 1915 on the French Riviera, where a young actress/model, Andrée (Christa Theret), gets a job posing for the aged painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir (played by the veteran actor Michel Bouquet). Renoir is an invalid with arthritic hands, but Andrée's beauty compels him to paint prolifically.
Andrée's arrival is followed shortly by the return of Renoir's son Jean (Vincent Rottiers), injured in the Great War and indecisive about a future career. (It's no spoiler to know that Jean Renoir directed French cinema classics such as "The Grand Illusion" and "Rules of the Game.")
Bourdos and cinematographer Mark Ping Bing Lee capture the beauty of Renoir's sunny Riviera and Theret's velvety skin. But there's not much tension in the script (by Bourdos and Jérôme Tonnerre) to match the visuals.
Opens Friday, May 24, at the Broadway Centre Cinemas; rated R for sequences of art-related nudity and brief language; in French, with subtitles; 112 minutes.