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Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Alain Resnais | Vous n'avez encore rien vu (You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet)
three lost souls
by Douglas Messerli
Alain Resnais and Laurent Herbiet (writers, based on plays by Jean Anouilh), Alain Resnais Vous
n'avez encore rien vu (You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet) / 2012
Here, cleverly, Resnais has chosen two plays by the late French playwright, Jean Anouilh (Eurydice and Cher Antione ou l’Amour rate) which themselves deal with those very themes, asking Bruno Podalydès to direct an independent theatrical production of them, and then interweaving their performances with those of his fictional characters, gathered together as part of playwright-director Antoine d’Anthac’s supposed “will,” which calls up the major actors who have, over the years, performed these same roles.
By alternating these performances, sometimes even using a split screen, and once creating a kind of triangular presentation of texts, Resnais achieves a prism of emotional meaning, that brilliantly explores the very ideas expressed in Anouilh’s 1941, wartime drama.
I am not so sure I am so fond of Anouilh’s meeting of the two lovers after her death. And Resnais own ending, wherein d’Anthac (acted by Bruno Podalydès) enters the spellbound room, having, apparently not really died, but simply having been determined to bring all of his beloved actors together again. It seems too much like a gimmick, even if it’s a slightly comical insider joke, since the fiction character is actually the real director of the stage performance. But these are minor complaints about Resnais otherwise magical tale of artifice and reality, time loss and time regained. If nothing else, Resnais still proves, in this penultimate work, that he is a master of the medium.
And the acting is brilliant. How many times does an audience get to see three versions of a play in one telling? Maybe you truly “ain’t seen nothing’” quite like it. Certainly the story of Orphée and Eurydice will never seem the same after seeing this and Cocteau’s earlier film.
Los Angeles, April 25, 2017