Sunday, December 20, 2009

1970 - THE LITTLE THEATER OF JEAN RENOIR, Renoir's final film is really bad

Jean Renoir's final film is depressing in it's awfulness.  Renoir wrote three short stories, and added a musical interlude with Jeanne Moreau performing a music hall song.

The first story is based on Hans Christian Andersen's,  The Little Match Girl.  Renoir has updated the story to the present and has retold the story making it about an elderly homeless couple who freeze to death on a cold winter night, lots of fun.

The second story is just completely strange.  A woman wants a perfectly waxed wood floor in her apartment.  She buys an electronic floor polisher, and brings about the death of her first husband  by making the floor really slippery.  This episode is presented as a quasi musical with people breaking out into song frequently and badly.

Jeanne Moreau performs her musical interlude, and she must have done it as a favor to Renoir because it contributes nothing to the film and is not particularly well sung.

The third story is about a middle aged man married to a younger woman who realizes she is cheating on him.  He decides to live in a "menage a trois" arrangement with her lover.  This one probably had possibilities, but the story has no resolution and just kind of stops it's as if Renoir didn't know how to end it.

Renoir was always good with his actors, but the performers here are pretty broad with lots of hammy overacting.  The first two stories were shot in a studio and they sure look it,  there was absolutely no feeling for their settings.  Renoir appears to be attempting to achieve some kind of European whimsy, but the film comes off as amateurish in the best Ed Wood tradition.

The Little Theater of Jean Renoir has a lot in common with Hitchcock's final film Family Plot.  They are embarrassing to watch and would probably have been better left unmade.

100 minutes.

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