****/**** Image A+ Sound A Extras A+
starring Nora Swinburne, Esmond Knight, Arthur Shields, Suprova Mukerjee
screenplay by Rumer Godden, Jean Renoir, based on the book by Godden
directed by Jean Renoir
by Walter Chaw There's something ineffable about Jean Renoir's same-named adaptation of Rumer Godden's The River. It has to do with how the light is different in our memories of childhood, the good days and especially the bad, captured here in three-strip Technicolor that understands at last Impressionism as a birthright of film. It's more real than real ever was, the "real" of nostalgia and melancholy and Romanticism. It's not possible to see in any other visual medium, though I confess I've seen it in certain poetry by certain poets. But there are moments--like in the films of Powell & Pressburger, who did their own Rumer Godden adaptation, the socio-sexual horror flick Black Narcissus--where you can definitely see it in cinema. The past, I mean. Not as it was, but as you remember it. The River captures the fear and longing of lazy summers on the cusp, of passing from innocence over to experience, of remembering things you never experienced so that you know you're connected to the entire stream of lives you've lived and lives you haven't, or haven't yet. I don't know how The River does it, but it does.