(Review originally written at 22 July 2008)

This movie is a beautiful looking one and is like a day in the life of of a family on their summer holiday on the countryside, somewhere in early 20th century France.

The movie is filled with some unexpected contrasts and metaphors. The movie in now way can be called a formulaic one and it picks its own path with its story. This ensures that the story is both realistic as well as unexpected in parts.

The way how the movie ends is in large contrast with the rest of the otherwise happy and cheerful beginning of the movie. It has a summer holiday look and feeling over it, in which the main characters, from the big city, are obviously enjoying the beauty and quietness of the country life. You would expect the love story to unravel as a romantic one but the romantic first encounter really doesn't go as often gets portrayed in movies. I must say that the movie is just like life and it doesn't try to bloom things. But perceptions differ, as can be also seen in the final sequence of the movie, in which the events of that one summer day in the country left a big lasting impression on the girl.

What Jean Renoir does really well is capturing the right mood and atmosphere of the movie. Even though I obviously wasn't around in 1936, it still feels all very familiar and pleasant. Of course the movie gets helped by its country side environments, which gets captured perfectly on camera.

Not all of the actors were real experienced professionals, which can be seen back in their performances but overall this shouldn't trouble you to much, since Jean Renoir perfectly knows to tell the story with its images and character behavior, rather than relying completely on the actor's skills.

I wouldn't go as far as calling this Renoir's best but it's nevertheless a great, humble, realistic, honest, warm portrayal of life.


About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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