The River

Director: Jean Renoir
Year Released: 1951
Rating: 2.0

Renoir's film from the early fifties about life in India contains some luscious local color and cinematography - a scene near the end shows a ceremony where red powder drifts through the air is just superb - but when it comes to its main storyline (that of several young girls falling for the same wounded soldier) it quickly becomes a trial. The acting is exceptionally weak - which is rare for Renoir, who was known to control his cast with precision - and the girls' obsession with the Captain leads to some overbearing scenes: one particularly awful example has the older sister stealing the diary of her horsy-faced younger sister and reading her personal entries out loud; later in the scene, she intentionally wounds the Captain by throwing a disc too far for him to reach and making him fall. The youngest brother, after goofing around with a cobra in a nearby garden (he sees a snake charmer and tries to emulate him) is predictably killed by it, but since it is such an obvious third act plot mechanism it's hardly affecting (the child was never developed into a real 'person' by the script).