The title is a bit off putting. The artificiality of the settings highlighted how great the actors were. One of the hardest things to get right is the casting, so in this case you sometimes had 3 sets of actors so you could compare. That's the problem. The story is about young love. Young lovers act differently than older lovers. More drama! It didn't work as well with the older actors, despite how good they were.
It's easy to see Resnais in his Marcellin, the decorous butler, perfect master of ceremonies, smiling secretly in the corner... The film itself is a playful invitation, to an intimately self-referential unfolding of Resnais' (already meta) high-formalism. There, cycles of memory, of death & return, do for temporal linearity what fluid definitions of artifice do for objectivity. Tenderly exposing the human. With love.
Resnais evokes fascinating parallels between Orpheus/Audience and Eurydice/Character wherein the jealousy of another actor's performance instills a fear of living in Eurydice, and Orpheus' despair of knowing her previous incarnations. Ultimately, it's 'life' of performance and truth in human emotions that direct towards solace, until Eurydice/Writer and Orpheus/Actor unite before an audience, where cinema = death.
Resnais made this at 90 and the spirit of a playful, vibrant and eternally youthful experiment maker was still evident. A game company of actors playing themselves are wonderful in this tribute to the thespian profession told with wit and precision. They gather to watch a filmed performance of 'Eurydice' and wind up taking up their old roles in a 'meta' method created by the director. Quite wonderful and affecting.
Aging French thespians are summoned together to mourn their dear friend and departed stage director. Once assembled at the dead man's chateau they reverie in their youthful actor roles and recollect their experiences, taking part in an impromptu re-enactment in this tag-team modern application of the Orpheus & Euridyce romantic tragedy. Maudlin and stilted. Yet a sturdy representation of French literary modernism.
Though each time it puzzles me differently, what seems to me out of the question is that this is a chef d'oeuvre that reworks old obsessions (memory, imagination, historical trauma – the Nazi occupation) & earlier films: Mélo, L’amour à mort (which pales in complexity, though not power, in comparison), Night & fog and most importantly, Hiroshima mon amour (the café, the themes, its poster hanging in the background)
Several months ago on this same station we saw a musical by the husband of Agnes Varda, none other than Jacque Demy. Filled with disco and pop, it was the story of Orpheus. The film was good for its sense of humor, but this one was GREAT for its sense of truth. If you like theater, you will love it, but you have to like theater.
Sitting in my screening room, watching these actors sitting in a screening room, playing themselves and conversing with the actors on screen-the only thing that would have made it better would have been for them to address me directly. This isn't the 4th wall being broken here, it is some other wall, the 5th maybe?
What is the point of this film? Retro nostalgia? Inability of an old white European male auteur to let go? Maybe there is something to the idea of a cinematic revival of Anouilh's play Euridice written during the German occupation of France (1941). But it is unclear what it is.
The end reserves some surprises, but the film isn’t more than a stagy intellectual prank that for long periods of time becomes painful to watch. Full Review and Rating: http://alwayswatchgoodmovies.blogspot.com/2013/04/you-aint-seen-nothin-yet-2012.html
A tour-de-force. Une mise en abyme d'une mise en abyme à la fois du théâtre et du cinéma. ( de la liaison entre les deux.). Un renouveau du langage qu'il dévoilait dans les années 60. Mélancolie, souvenirs, amour, temps. Alain Resnais confirme qu'il est l'un des plus grands cinéastes de son temps.
From the ingenuity and energy of this film, you'd never expect Resnais to be over 90 years old. Feels like the work of a much younger filmmaker. Once again, Resnais plays with form, here brazenly merging cinema and theater in clever, exciting fashion, while examining the art of performance in the process. Vibrant, fun, and smart meta without a hint of smugness.