Such as the Immaculate Conception, Nénette wants a child without man or coition. It is not sexuality without procreation, but procreation out of sex. It is the child ‘taken […] as One-all-alone ’, without lineage, disconnected from nature but with the pleasure of science. It is a will to enjoy. We are in 1959. Lunch on the grass is directed by Jean Renoir. If the film is about artificial insemination – the filmmaker will read in particular the books of Jean Roustand, original researcher in biology – questioning the decline of the family order and tries to find an exit on the side of filiation.
Wanting a child out of sex
The first artificial inseminations date back to 1790 but the Church condemns this technique contrary to divine laws . While in France, the law of 1945 on Maternal and Child Welfare (P M I – protection maternelle et infantile) suggests that PMI centers ‘eventually include a sterility consultation for infertile couples ’, researchers at the University of Iowa, in the United States, were developing sperm preservation techniques which led, in 1953, to the first birth from a frozen semen. In France, the first test-tube baby, Amandine, was born in 1982 and forty years later, Medically Assisted Procreation represents one in 30 births . Science became the instrument of the desire for a child.
In Lunch on the grass, the eminent professor Alexis claims that ‘the art of making children should be assigned to specialists’. The sole aim is the father-sperm. The ‘father’s disappearance’  occurs within test-tubes ! Decades before a new legislation on procreation was requested to allow a single woman to have a child using a sperm bank , Jean Renoir questions this will tinged with enjoyment, and places the Real father at the centre.
The untameable of wanting, the truth of desire
With Nénette, wanting a child is a caprice. When she meets the professor, she tells him ‘I come to have a little one’ and clarifies right away ‘I am not married and won’t be any time soon’. She had already explained ‘I don’t want of man, they are all lazy’. On the screen, three men lost their brilliance : the brother drinks and it is his wife who takes care of the children and of the vineyard, her father is a fat man without any authority and the shepherd is a healer with questionable powers, which leaves the professor to whom she supposes a knowledge on procreation. If the plus-de-jouir child makes itself heard, the phallus child will snuggle into high grass.
During a lunch on the grass, Étienne Alexis, the artificial insemination specialist, has to celebrate his engagement with Countess Marie-Charlotte, a German scout with military appearance, but in a wild outburst of nature, he yields to Nénette, a sensual woman with country charms. While an old shepherd is playing the flute, like Pan, God of fertility, the Mistral roses and the encounter of the bodies is guided by the only pleasures of the flesh. The sexual scene complies with the request: ‘I want a little one like you make them, tell me when we will make one?’ This request unveils the ‘misunderstanding’ which cannot be separated from birth . Taken aback, the professor responds ‘oh, yes, the surgery ?’ and leaves. She is swimming in the river. He discovers her naked body hidden behind the tall grass. With those impressionist images, Jean Renoir quotes Manet, including in particular the naked woman in the background of his painting called ‘Lunch on the grass’. Then, the scientist takes her in the bushes. Ultimately, Nénette does not need emerging biotechnologies anymore and the fantasmatic scenario remains on his track.
The filiation in Lunch on the grass
It is through his childhood eyes looking at his father, Auguste Renoir, while painting that Jean Renoir films at Collettes, the family home. Such as paintings, his shots capture images of sensual pleasures of nature, the garden and his shades of green, the sun-drenched olive trees, light reflections through their foliage. With this film which represents the sensuality of nature, Jean pays tribute to Auguste . Because ‘when assigned to science, the real of the reproduction happens to be separated from the symbolic of filiation’  therefore he finds his solution by giving to see the Name-of-the-Father. The filiation fits in with the title of the film. Modern painting arises from this famous painting Lunch on the grass. Exhibited to the world in 1863, it was a scandal : a picnic scene with a naked woman looking at us. She is sitting, surrounded by two dandies in suits. In the background, another woman in light clothes gets out of the river. The filmmaker is marked by female models: his mother is a former model of his father, and of his nanny, who is the favorite model of his father. He says that she was a balance between simplicity and truculence, which can’t fail to remind of Nénette.
Translation : Manuela Rabesahala
Review : Caroline Heanue and Tracy Hoijer-Favre
Photography: ©Vandenheuvel Jonathan
 The Seminar of Jacques Lacan : Seminar XXI, The non-duped err/The names of the father. session of April 9, 1974. Unpublished. Translated by Gallagher, C. Accessed online at www.lacaninireland.com, p.187.
 Brousse M.-H., Female modes of jouissance (Mode de jouir au féminin), Navarin, 2020, p. 39.
 Ministry of Public Health and Population, Report of the Minister on Maternal and Child Welfare between 1952 and 1956 (Ministère de la Santé publique et de la Population, Rapport du ministre sur la Protection Maternelle et Infantile au cours de la période 1952-1956), 1958
 De La Rochebrochard E., French Institute for Demographic Studies or INED, Medically Assisted Procreation represents one in 30 births in France, in Population et Sociétés, Issue 556, Juin 2018. Accessed online at www.ined.fr
 Lacan J, Note on the Father and Universalism, Translated by Grigg, R. In The Lacanian Review, Issue 3, 2017.
 In 2017, the French National Consultative Ethics Committee (Comité consultatif national d’éthique CCNE) gives a favorable opinion to MAP for single women. On the 4th of February 2021, an amendment has been voted by the Senate to exclude them (Access to the online article at https://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2021/02/04/les-associations-furieuses-du-rejet-de-l- extension-de-la-pma-a-toutes-les-femmes-par-le-senat_6068796_3224.html). The text will be resubmitted to the National Assembly.
 Lacan J., The misunderstanding/mis-heard, in Papers of the Freudian School of Melbourne, Volume 19, 1998; pp 13-17. Accessed at www.Freud2Lacan.com. First published in French as Le malentendu (1980), in Ornicar ?, Issue 22-23, 1981, p. 12.
 In 1962, Jean Renoir wrote the biography of his father, republished in 1981 as ‘Pierre-Auguste Renoir, my father’.
 Brousse M.-H., Parenting : an actual neologism. Published in French as Un néologisme d’actualité : la parentalité, in La Cause freudienne, Issue 60, June 2005, p. 121.