Renoir really went downhill after LA REGLE DE JEU (1939). I love all his work in French, and love the silent LITTLE MATCH GIRL, but his later work leaves much to be desired. Hollywood has an overwhelming power to reduce even the greatest European film makers to its level. Some good camerawork doesn't make up for this being just another mid-century Hollywood product. The grandma is an exceptionally poor archetype.
Besides having the farts, this was a very pleasant Thursday afternoon viewing! Very mix feelings on this. I love the Renior mixed formalism and realism. So graceful. So beautiful to look at. And his humanistic lens is there in all its glory but it didn't leave much of an impression on me. Really a 3 1/2 star movie. Next time I'll make sure I don't have the farts!
Renoir's take on American sharecropping has some fine moments and on second watch enjoyed the bland but heartfelt performances of its leads Scott and Field. Quite amusing was the turn by Beulah Bondi as the old curmudgeon Granny Well shot mostly on location with often a near documentary feel to it this slice of Americana, dashed dreams and hope has a certain timeless quality and offers few but rich rewards.
The American Renoir's innocence and ingenuity have problems sometimes. Not being the worst movie of this phase, "The Southerner" suffers from archaic stereotypes in a caricatured and simplistic story, some failed roles and some clumsy shots. But as it has a unique sensitivity (which would only be surpassed by "This Land is Mine"), the movie earns a bunch of unforgettable moments.
"Not the best of Renoir", is said, and it might be truth. Nevertheless it opens a window to another time and another world. An exotic reality that escapes the naive and pure of this classic fiction. This simple and poetic emanates beautiful and strong images, and really powerful scenes. The archaic technology of the shooting, and the way of the screenwriting become something worth of thought. --Lorenzo Canina