Saturday, 7 November 2015

Life of Riley

(Aimer, Boire et Chanter) 2014 - Dir Alain Resnais - 1hr 48min. Shown in FeckenOdeon 2 on 20th November, 2015

What a paradox this is! A film made by a veteran French director, written by a distinguished English playwright, spoken in French…but set in Yorkshire. It could be a recipe for disaster but when the distinguished French director is Alain Resnais and the playwright is Alan Aykbourn there is a more than a glimmer of hope that the result will be rather special.
This is M.Resnais’ final film. He died at the age of 92 soon after its first showing. He left us this gentle, muted swansong: an adaptation of the stage-play “Relatively Speaking”, by Alan Ayckbourn – an English author to whom Resnais was as attached as Claude Chabrol was to Ruth Rendell. 
A trio of couples are united in shock and anxiety as they hear that their old friend, George Riley, is terminally ill, with just a few months left. All of the women have some emotional or sexual history with Riley (who, like Godot, remains absent from the stage) and when they sentimentally invite him to take part in an amateur drama production they’re involved with, these long-submerged tensions rise to the surface.
The setting is deliberately theatrical - the characters are rehearsing for the local amateur dramatic show and their on stage characters mix with their off stage “real” characters. Perhaps emphasizing that “all the world’s a stage” and that, despite all our farcical machinations, we’re only here until the great stage manager in the sky decides that the curtain must fall.

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