VIFF Film Reviews: Renoir; Amour.


Two more from the Vancouver International Film Festival, one pretty, the other profound.

Renoir (Drama, 111 minutes, France, director Gilles Bourdos). As the First World War rages, the aged and arthritic Pierre-Auguste Renoir fills his dotage with painting pretty women in the buff. Then his son, Jean, appears. Wounded in action, Jean attracts the romantic attentions of nubile redhead Andreé, and the story goes from there. A very pretty picture with a splendid performance by Michel Bouquet as Renoir père.

Amour. (Drama, 127 minutes, France/Germany/Austria, director Michael Haneke). There’s just one surprise in this film. For the most part it is a sequence of well-acted, well-edited scenes depicting in all its tragic banality the decline of Anne, a classical pianist, who suffers a series of strokes. Both Emmanuelle Riva as Anne and Jean-Louis Trintignant as Georges are spectacular in their restraint. Haneke’s deft hand prevents the film from wandering into banality or sentimentalism. There’s not a wasted second in the entire two hours; I was locked in from the start. My pick for the best of the festival (with four days to go).

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About aharmlessdrudge

Way back during the late Bronze age -- actually it was the 1950s -- all of us in high school had to take a vocational test to determine our interests and, supposedly, our future careers. I cannot remember the outcome, but I do recall one question that gave me pause. "If you were to win a Nobel prize, would it be in literature or in physics?" I hesitated over the question: although I enjoyed mathematics and science more than English class, I did have a couple of unfinished (and very bad) novels hidden away at home. I cannot remember what I chose back then, but the dilemma followed me to university, where I switched from mathematics to English and -- after a five-year stint in journalism -- back to mathematics. I recently retired as a professor of statistics. Retirement. What a good chance to revive my literary ambitions. I have finished a novel -- more about that in good time -- and a rubble of drafts of articles about mathematics and statistics is taking up space on my hard disk.
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