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1,101 Ratings

The River

Directed by Jean Renoir
France, India, 1951
Drama, Romance


Director Jean Renoir’s entrancing first color feature—shot entirely on location in India—is a visual tour de force. Based on the novel by Rumer Godden, the film eloquently contrasts the growing pains of three young women with the immutability of the holy Bengal River.

The River Directed by Jean Renoir
Renoir took a coming-of-age memoir and peeled back so much incident and plot that what remains is more reverie than narrative, leaving time to linger on faces and landscapes and the ever flowing Ganges. The emblematic images for me are a montage of naps which Renoir zooms in on with swaying drowsiness, aping the drift into unconsciousness. The film as a whole has the same kind of lulling effect, and if you lock into its tempo the screen will drop away…, revealing eternal verities.
August 01, 2017
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In a project that relies so heavily on young and non-professional actors, Renoir’s knack for handling and editing performance becomes self-evident. Framed right, their awkwardness becomes characterization and depth. The result is a work of careful construction, with moments of graceful lyricism and subtle tragedy, which seems to move as elegantly and mysteriously as rivers do.
April 22, 2015
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In effect, Renoir humanizes India, but does so with ethnographic curiosity by relying too heavily on its cultural specificities for mere visual detail, instead of affording a multitude of perspectives. Although the film’s titular river is expressed as being complicated and polymorphous, the narrative remains restricted to an unquestionably limited valence, in which even Indian physical expression via a prolonged dance sequence is rendered through fantasy and myth.
April 21, 2015
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