You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet!
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Time Out says
Mon May 21 2012Alain Resnais, just about to hit 90, seems untouched by age, at least as far as his films are concerned. ‘Wild Grass’, his last film, was arguably more audacious, lighter and more evocative of the carefree spirit of youth than the work of many younger directors, and this latest is no less adventurous, notwithstanding its subject matter.
Because, to borrow a pun from an earlier Resnais title, the twin concerns of his formally inventive adaptation of Jean Anouilh’s ‘Eurydice’ are ‘amouret la mort’: love and death. But if the director has any anxieties about what lies beyond the grave, he certainly isn’t revealing them. Playful,witty, as unashamedly theatrical as it is cinematic, the movie begins with a fabulous array of French actors – Sabine Azéma, Pierre Arditi, Michel Piccoli, Lambert Wilson, Anne Consigny, Mathieu Amalric and Hippolyte Girardot are probably the best known internationally – playingthemselves and being summoned by phone to the home of a recently deceased old playwright friend. There they are shown a video of drama students rehearsing the dead writer’ retelling of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice and as the actors, who have all themselves acted in the play at some point in their lives, watch the video, they start first to repeat the remembered lines, then to act out the parts with the other spectators, then to interact with the performers on screen. Then the house they are in becomes an ever-changing set.
There’s far more to it, of course; the movie isn’t just some shallow piece of clever formal flapdoodle. Like most of Resnais’s work, it concerns the constant, complex interplay between ‘reality’, memory, imagination and desire. Thanks to the choice of material, death also looms large, though not at all threateningly; the ghosts here are simply the feelings we have experienced. The film is touching, but more than that it’s wise, witty and thought-provoking. Whether Resnais will complete another movie remains to be seen, but if this were by any chance to be his swansong, with its distant and resonant echoes of ‘Hiroshima Mon Amour’ (made 63 years earlier), it would certainly be a lovely one.
Author: Geoff Andrew