I had remembered it as perhaps Renoir’s most radical film—the one that adds to a bumptious eroticism a hectically comical view of scientific modernity—and I had remembered it right. The plot alone suggests the visionary energy of the the sixty-five-year-old Renoir’s antically philosophical imagination.
It is the perfect setting for this back-to-nature comedy in which a scientist (and hopeful presidential candidate), is lured away from the world of the mind for that of the flesh. But instead of using this return to indulge in nostalgia or reiterate the naturalistic style of his still-famous triumphs – Renoir pushes further into farce and caricature. Picnic on the Grass is a broad and joyful comedy that was inevitably compared with Rules of the Game (1939) and Grand Illusion (1937).