Toni (1934)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

After completing his successful Madame Bovary (34), director Jean Renoir could have had the pick of France's top "name" actors for his 1935 film Toni, but chose instead to use nonprofessionals. The plot was based on a true story, brought to Renoir's attention by the sheriff of the village where it occurred. The story is the basic "good man destroyed by bad woman" conceit: An Italian laborer sets the gears in motion for Zola-esque tragedy by falling in love with a young woman, who then marries his foreman. This terse triangle is given verisimilitude by the unknown players and the location filming at the actual village where the real-life incident took place; what could have been relentlessly grim material is imbued with warmth and sentiment by Renoir. Taken for granted upon its initial release, Toni was obviously a major influence in the Italian Neorealist movement of the 1940s; the Renoir film finally and permanently secured classic status in the auteur-conscious 1960s. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
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Charles Blavette
as Antonio "Toni" Canova
Max Dalban
as Albert
as Gaby
Paul Bozzi
as Jacques Bozzi the Guitarist
Jacques Leveil
as Jacques Mortier
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Critic Reviews for Toni

All Critics (6) | Top Critics (4)

It has a curious, muted, infinitely poetic way of treating human passion.

Full Review… | June 6, 2012
New York Times
Top Critic

Even these lapses often serve the positive function of bringing us closer to the people in the film, if not the characters. What one ultimately carries away from Toni, in fact, is a memory of felt presences rather than incarnations

Full Review… | June 6, 2012
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Renoir invests it with a sense of character and place that gives it an unusually blunt and sensual impact.

Full Review… | June 6, 2012
Time Out
Top Critic

Some of Renoir's staging, faithful to the characters' willfulness, is abrupt, with a casual lyricism caught on the fly.

June 6, 2012
New Yorker
Top Critic

Each sequence of the film is a tour-de-force of imagination: Renoir continues his investigations of depth of field and the moving camera and makes painterly use of the natural landscapes to counterpoint the drama.

Full Review… | June 6, 2012
Senses of Cinema

A seminal film from Renoir, with powerful themes and a direct, immediate style.

Full Review… | June 6, 2012

Audience Reviews for Toni

Wonderfully executed tragic romance from Renoir. I find that Renoir doesn't usually attain that level of transcendence that I hope for, but most of his films are very watchable (a couple of duds like The River notwithstanding). Here we have fine performances, fine cinematography, and a fine story with an engaging web of relationships. Not much to say, just a solid movie all around.

Martin Teller
Martin Teller

"toni" is jean renoir's pioneering stimulus to italian neo-realism under the aroma of picturesque backwater surrounded with the rural pastures, the barren cliff and placid vineyards that weave a backset of astrayed affairs in a noirish mode with the trampy femme fatale and his willing romantic sap as the sacrificial lamb. the story is about the italian immigrant toni who is transported to french countryside to earn his honest living...and toni gets tangled up with two females, one is his virtuously generous landlady marie, the other is the lecherous josefa who literarily sleeps with every possible man she could seduce. futilely toni crazes for virtueless josefa but heartbroken by her infidelity so he ends up marrying marie but still carries a torch for josefa. eventually toni becomes the sucker utilized and doublecrossed by josefa and her ruthless cuckold. the social satire aspect is the whirling round of italian immigrants, after toni's ill-fated closure, there're yet another bunch of naive foreign immigrants departing from the train with their naive dreams in this desolate field. to be faithful to the consistancy of neo-realism, the music score of toni is accompanied completely by immediate guitar -playing by the background, and every character looks as crudely primitive as possible to create an atmosphere of wasteland, and contrarily this arrangement feels offbeatly poetic in an artlessly natrual way just like an endearing folk song with contagious affinity.

Veronique Kwak
Veronique Kwak

Super Reviewer

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