Alain Resnais' newest -- and final -- film, LIFE OF RILEY can't help but be a sad experience for those of us who loved the guy's work, even if, for me at least, it took some decades to fully appreciate that work. Memory is one of this fabled French filmmaker's major themes, and I don't think that memory -- for young people, anyway -- has quite the major place in one's life that it occupies in later years. Resnais was also an experimental filmmaker right up until the end. Yet his experiments were always coupled to narrative in a way that, with some extra work, of course, one could begin to fathom meaning, while appreciating the style.
Alan Ayckbourn -- without imagining that Resnais knew quite well during the filming how little time he had left. I suspect his widow, Sabine Azéma, (pictured below, right), who is also one of the stars of the movie, would know for certain. The rest of us will just have to watch and wonder and enjoy. That last action, for Resnais fans, at least, will not be difficult, for he has given the movie a wonderfully "fake" look that combines gorgeous shots of the countryside and expensive estates with very obvious stage sets, and then occasionally places his actors in close-up against hand-drawn backgrounds that bring to mind comic book art.
Hippolyte Girardot, below, left) that he has little time left to live.
Caroline Sihol, at left, two photos above and just below; with Michel Vuillermoz) are both former flames of Riley and of course are bereft by this news.
Alba Gaïa Kraghede Bellugi, makes an appearance and somehow takes the movie into a deeper, darker contemplation of death's inevitability and finality.
Kino Lorber and running 108 minutes -- opens in New York City at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema tomorrow, Friday, October 24. Elsewhere? Shocking as this may seem, no Los Angeles showing is yet scheduled. But the film will play at the Cinema St. Louis as part of the St. Louis International Film Festival on November 20 and 22, and then on December 5, it will play at the University of Wisconsin, Madison (unless, of course, Scott Walker wins his race for Governor once again and closes the school down).