ok SO what is it with me. Some critics had "bad" things to say about this film. It was too slow, the script was "empty" etc...etc...it is now about 2 weeks since I saw it and it haunts me every day.
I keep replaying scenes in front of me and each one is like a tableau ready to be painted.
Have I been an artist wife for too long?
Did I find similarities in the life of Renoir and ours? No.
First of all , Renoir is very old here. Michel Bouquet does not have to say much. His old man grunts tell a whole conversation. He is also at this point in life a rich man and has sold a lot of his work.
He suffers from arthritis to he point that he does not want to give up to paint "something" just "anything".
He does try.
His cripple fingers have to be bound with the brush inside.
His entourage makes up his palette , now ochre, now blue, now white , not that much....
The little dobs of paint are waiting for the shaky hand.
I sit there in the quiet of the movie house with "ears on" and I can hear every word, it is in French.
I am feeling his pain and I want to cry.
The day after delivering Sabrina I woke up with fat swollen feet. To stand on them was like walking on thousands of spikes. The doctor said that I had "gout". Gave me some pills and sent me home.
"Gout" back home was a priest disease or the Baron down the street from the school, he had it too.
Mother said :"They eat too much rich food and drink too much wine!".
I was afraid to write mother. What was she going to think?
Next my hands became swollen and ugly. The pain was worse and worse.
I could not pick up a coffee pot to pour coffee and I could not comb the girls long hair.
As I watch Renoir sitting there and often screaming out I forgot it was a movie and felt for him like he was sitting next to me. I figured he had courage and willpower to want to continue to paint.
My ordeal lasted 9 years until a "bad" drug called Butazolidin put me totally in remission and life was good again. I was 28 when it started. My stomach was so bad from all the aspirins I took that I ate every meal with papaya for easy digestion.
The staff in the Renoir house brings in a new model hoping to have him in a better mood.
She (Christa Theret) is gorgeous. Not a fake anything on her. Gorgeous hair, no fake eyelashes, no filled up breast. Not a Hollywood scenario. She poses with great grace for the master. There is a twinkle in his old eyes. One can guess what he is thinking. Yes, the past, it seems that a lot of models came in found their way to his bed and were later dismissed.
My mind wanders and I remember asking Bob when we were first together if he had done a lot of work with nudes. Not sure of myself as an artist wife I wanted all phases covered.
Bob answered with smiles. "Yes, he said, in Chouinard we were required to do nude sketches. Live models came in all the time. The class was always completely full and I was as usual always late. So I ended up with the view of a crack in a rear end sitting in front of me. When I did get a chance to sketch a front of a lady she was about 300 lbs. So I lost my appetite for nude work".
I did not know if I should believe this or not but I figured no young chick with boobs under her chin was going to end up in my house.
I did not have to fear. Bob was in love with still life. He said they did not move (the models) and he got to eat them afterwards.
Not so when we lived in Spain and he had a commission to do a fish with vegetables....
we went to the mercado and looked at all the fishes. He did not like any of them. One of the merchants had a short fuse with my husband and started to yell things we had not taken up yet in our Spanish conversations book. I kept telling the man "Es un pintor," like that was going to make the grade. I held up a fish and then pinches my nose and showed that we wanted mucho colores on the fish.
He got the picture and brought out the smelliest fish with blues and greens. Bob was in heaven.
I stayed on the balcony when he painted.
So back to the movie which had every scene set up to look like a natural painting. I could not get enough of it. Slow...the reviews say...I liked it slow, seeing the trees the river, the kids and girls in long skirts stepping stone to stone. At one point Renoir from behind his easel tells his friend :Oh, how very pretty!
I did not think that he was a dirty old man, I thought like Bob when it was beautiful he would say so.
I wrote this before but when we were in Rome in 1969 all I saw was one Lola Brigida after another. Voluptuous black haired beauties. Bob never said a word until we came to the beggar lady on the church steps. Her face a map of lines, deep worn out lines on a skin like leather. He gave her money and asked if he could photograph her as she was so beautiful. She smiled, she did not have teeth but he made her day.
Somewhere I have that picture and it sure made my trip. The man was a peach.
One does not truly know who in the film is the main object, the painter, the model or his son (Vincent Rottiers). It is a three part scenario. Not much melodrama except that the son comes back hurt from the war and then must return.
But we all know that Jean Renoir came to Hollywood and married Andree, the model, but later divorced.
In real life I think the fantasy ended there.
My life of remembering goes on and how lucky I am.
Instead of sitting by a cool river Bob and I would walk into the Spanish sugar cane fields and find a place to sit so he could do a watercolor of a finca. Not just any finca..the right one. The hot sun did not bother him then nor I, so we found this little stone bridge over a dried up creek and took up residence.
I had the Casera drinks ,cheese and fresh bread if we got hungry. Bob had sketched in his finca when out of nowhere came dozens of goats. We scrambled papers, brushes and pencils as they surely where headed for us. We were sitting on their "salt" on the bridge. They needed the salt to continue their day. The herder thought it was hilarious. I bet Renoir would have said:"how very pretty ". We never forgot and so I could like it all again while watching the grand master on film.They called him "Patron".