You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet!

Vous n’avez encore rien vu

Rumored to be Alain Resnais’ last film, “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet!” is a suitable swan son, a feature in which the vet New Wave director continues to explore issues of memory, theater, and real life.

World premiering in the Main Competition at the 2012 Cannes Film Fest, “You Ain’t Seen” is an art film par excellence, a meditative work which offers rarefied literary, theatrical, and aesthetic pleasures.

The ever-inventive Resnais, who is 89, has found a compellingly (even playfully) modernist mode to present an old classic play, Jean Anouilh’s “Eurydice,” by assembling a dozen actors who had appeared in earlier staging of the work.

Their task is challenging: They need to (re)evaluate a the new interpretation of a novice company, and by implication, to determine whether the play still holds resonance for today’s audiences.

For that purpose, Resnais has placed on stage three generations of the best French actors, headed by Resnais’ consistent muse, the red-haired Sabine Azema, and including Mathieu Amalric, Anne Consigny, Hippolyte Girardot, Michel Piccoli, Lambert Wilson.

Structurally the movies is divided into a prologue, four acts (asymmetrical in terms of running time) and epilogue, which presents several satisfying and uplifting conclusions for all concerned, the dead and the living, the older and the younger actors.

It’s as if Resnais were saying, long live the theater and its spiritual artists.

After a light credits sequence, the exercise begins with the thespians receiving identical phone calls informing them of theater director Antoine d’Anthac’s death. The actors are thereupon summoned to  Antoine’s large mansion, which alludes to another Anouilh work, “Dear Antoine,” credited along with “Eurydice” as the literary sources of Laurent Herbiet and Alex Reval’s screenplay.

First to arrive is Azema, and the other performers get there in similar fashion, accompanied to composer Mark Snow’s sounds of electronic music.

Seated on stage, the actors join (or summoned) into the on-stage action upon hearing a new company recite the lines they once delivered themselves, motivated by remarkable loyalty to Antoine and profound love of the original material.

Resnais’ reliable editor, Herve de Luze, meets the arduous challenge of providing meticulously staged and remarkably smooth transitions from one actor to another (often after only one line), and from once scene to the next.

A longer review will be published later.

Cast

Mathieu Amalric, Pierre Arditi, Sabine Azema, Jean-Noel Broute, Anne Consigny, Anny Duperey, Hippolyte Girardot, Gerard Lartigau, Michel Piccoli, Denis Podalydes, Michel Piccoli, Michel Robin, Andrez Seweyn, Jean-Chretien Sibertin-Blanc, Michel Vuillermoz, Lambert Wilson, Vimala Pons, Sylvain Dieuaide, Fulvia Collongues, Vincent Chatraix, Jean-Christophe Folly, Vladimir Consigny, Laurent Menoret, Lyn Thibault, Gabriel Dufay.

Credits:

Directed by Alain Resnais.

Screenplay, Laurent Herbiet, Alex Reval, based on the plays “Eurydice” and “Dear Antoine” by Jean Anouilh.

Camera: Eric Gautier

Editor, Herve de Luze.

Music, Mark Snow.

Production designer, Jacques Saulnier.

Costume designer, Jackie Budin.

Running time: 115 Minutes

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