Shot when the director was 91 and finished just before he died in March, Alain Resnais’s third adaptation of an Alan Ayckbourn play is his gentlest attempt at using the artifice of theater to affirm the reality of imagination. Suggesting that life is but a long rehearsal for a play that no one will ever see, Life of Riley follows three bickering couples (performed by a who’s who of Resnais’s favorite actors, including wife Sabine Azéma) as they prepare to stage an amateur production of a different Ayckbourn comedy. The terminally ill George Riley never appears onscreen but is so often the topic of his friends’ marital spats that he manages to become the most fun character of all (save perhaps an animatronic mole).
While most of the film’s pleasures will be reserved for Resnais die-hards, Life of Riley nevertheless provides its own context. Confined to gleefully artificial sets—introduced with scene-setting watercolor paintings instead of establishing shots—Resnais’s breezy farewell doesn’t just blur the line between art and reality, it renders the distinction irrelevant. Only death remains absolute.
|Release date:||Friday October 24 2014|
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Alain Resnais, Laurent Herbiet, Jean-Marie Besset|