Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Partie de campagne

Written and directed by Jean Renoir, Partie de campagne (A Day in the Country) is the story about a love affair on a summer afternoon in 1860 France. Based on a short story by Guy de Maupassant, the film is a 40-minute short originally intended to be a feature-length film that Renoir made in 1936 only to leave it unfinished due to weather problems as it would later be released 10 years later. Starring Sylvia Bataille, Georges D’Arnoux, Jane Marken, Andre Gabriello, Jacques B. Brunius, and Paul Temps. Partie de campagne is a remarkable film from Jean Renoir.

The film is essentially a story about a rich Parisian family who take a trip to the countryside where a young woman named Henriette (Sylvia Bataille) catches the eye of a man named Henri (Georges D’Arnoux) who takes her on a boat ride as they fall in love. That’s the simple part of the story as it explores this young woman who is intrigued by this man when he was supposed to flirt with her mother. Yet, something happens as she is dealing with the fact that her fiancée is a buffoon while Henri is just a simple man who likes simple pleasures which is one of the reasons why she becomes attracted to him.

Jean Renoir’s direction is very simple and understated though it does have its air of style in terms of the way he shoots the river banks as well as the scenes of Henriette standing on a swing. Renoir doesn’t go for anything over-stylized in many of the film’s scenes as he wanted to maintain the simplicity and looseness of the country. While there are scenes of humor that occur involving Henriette’s father and her fiancée, Renoir is more focused on building up the romance as he does it very slowly while text does appear to fill in gaps to reveal what happens afterwards. Overall, Renoir creates a very fascinating yet compelling film about a summer romance.

Cinematographer Claude Renoir does brilliant work with the film‘s black-and-white photography from the gorgeous look of the scenes in the open countryside to the more shaded look in Henri‘s secret place. Editors Marinette Cadix and Marguerite Renoir do nice work with the editing as it‘s mostly straightforward to play out the serenity of the locations. Set decorator Robert Gys does terrific work with the film‘s minimal set piece which is a restaurant near the countryside. The sound work of Joseph de Bretagne and Marcel Courmes is wonderful for the sparseness that is in display for many of the film‘s locations. The music of Joseph Kosma is truly splendid for its playful orchestral score to play up the humor as well as more serene pieces in the dramatic moments.

The film’s excellent ensemble cast includes some notable performances from Jean Renoir as the restaurant owner, Marguerite Renoir as the waitress, Gabrielle Fontan as Henriette’s grandmother, Jacques B. Brunius as Henri’s friend Rodolphe, Andre Gabriello and Jane Marken as Henriette’s parents, and Paul Temps as Henriette’s dim-witted fiancée Anatole. Georges D’Arnoux is wonderful as the very quiet Henri who is intrigued by Henriette as he tries to woo her but not in a typical way. Finally, there’s Sylvia Bataille in an incredible performance as Henriette as she is this young woman excited by the countryside as well as a melancholia over what she’s facing as she finds something in Henri that fascinates her.

Partie de campagne is a delightful and mesmerizing film from Jean Renoir. While it may have not be the completed film that he had intended to make, it is still a very captivating film that explores unexpected love in a summer day. Notably as it features superb performances from Sylvia Bataille and Georges D’Arnoux. In the end, Partie de campagne is an excellent film from Jean Renoir.

Jean Renoir Films: (Backbiters) - (La Fille de l’eau) - (Charleston Parade) - (Une vie sans joie) - (Marquitta) - (The Sad Sack) - (The Tournament) - (The Little Match Girl) - (Le Bled) - (On purge bebe) - (Isn’t Life a Bitch?) - (Night at the Crossroads) - Boudu Saved from Drowning - (Chotard & Company) - (Madame Bovary (1933 film)) - (Toni) - (Life Belongs to Us) - (The Lower Depths (1936 film)) - (The Crime of Monsieur Lange) - Grand Illusion - (La Marseillaise) - La Bete Humaine - Rules of the Game - (Swamp Water) - (This Land is Mine) - (Salute to France) - (The Southerner) - (The Diary of a Chambermaid (1945 film)) - (The Woman on the Beach) - The River - (The Golden Coach) - (French Cancan) - (Elena and Her Men) - (The Doctor’s Horrible Experiment) - (Picnic on the Grass) - (The Elusive Corporal) - (The Little Theater of Jean Renoir)

© thevoid99 2013


Unknown said...

I'm scared to try another Renoir since I wasn't as thrilled with The Rules Of The Game like everybody else. But your review put certain things in perspective. I'll give the man another chance. Great job once again.

thevoid99 said...

The River I think is my favorite Renoir film with Rules of the Game in second.

Based on what I've seen so far, I like what I have seen and I'm willing to check out more. I'm interested in seeing The Lower Depths that he did first and then the version by Akira Kurosawa.