Picnic on the Grass (1959)

Picnic on the Grass (1959)

“Thanks to science, what was once a mystery can now be controlled and analyzed.”

A politically ambitious scientist (Paul Meurisse) promoting the societal benefits of artificial insemination finds himself falling for a voluptuous country girl (Catherine Rouvel) who wants a baby.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Comedy
  • French Films
  • Jean Renoir Films
  • Scientists
  • Sexuality

The central premise of this fantasy-laced sex comedy by Jean Renoir — that one must give in to bodily passions rather than attempting to rationalize all aspects of life — ultimately fails to provide enough narrative juice to bolster its rather innocuous storyline and forgettable protagonists.

While Renoir’s point remains just as viable and important as ever, it’s been explored elsewhere — and to greater effect — by many other filmmakers (c.f. Woody Allen’s Sleeper, for example). Shot at his father’s country home in the South of France, Picnic on the Grass is always pleasing to look at, but never really all that engaging.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Beautiful nature imagery

Must See?
No; this one is strictly must-see for Renoir fans. Listed as a film with Historical importance and a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.


One thought on “Picnic on the Grass (1959)

  1. First viewing. Very much in agreement: not a must & “never really all that engaging.”

    This paper-thin ‘comedy’ seems in large part influenced by Ionseco’s absurdist plays – even tho rooted in a kind of realism. The story, indeed, has a single idea and takes its good old time stretching it out (hence the inter-lacing of nature shots, which are actually a reprieve from the obviousness of just about everything else).

    Catherine Rouvel is adorable as the leading female, and she shows some appropriate spunk along the way.

    Overall, however, this is a too-precious, tedious offering.

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