Le petit theatre de Jean Renoir | Chicago Reader

Le petit theatre de Jean Renoir

This film, Renoir's last, looks so simple and effortless that it practically begs to be underrated. But the magic of Renoir's art was always in its invisibility, and Le petit theatre—a masterpiece, I think—is no exception. In a series of short sketches, Renoir recaps the stylistic progression of his career, from expressionism to naturalism, focusing all the while on his eternal theme, the vicissitudes of love. It's hard not to see something of Renoir himself in the old peasant whose story is told in the last episode. He relinquishes his young wife to a young man, as graciously and wistfully as Renoir, in his final film, turns the cinema he has loved all his life over to his students. And we are all his students.

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