March 28, 2015

Life of Riley (2014)

Life of Riley (2014) - Movie Review
Directed by: Alain Resnais
Country: France

Movie Review: Iconic French filmmaker, Alain Resnais, went more and more theatrically during the last phase of his prolific career (six decades), terminated a year ago with his death at the age of 91. The creator of timeless classics such as “Hiroshima Mon Amour”, “Last Year at Marienbad”, “My American Uncle” and “Providence”, was considered a conceptual visionary whose narratives evinced a bold distinctiveness associated with a strong socio-political content. His latest comedy-drama, “Life of Riley”, reunites seven characters, more or less intimate to the ‘invisible’ George Riley. All of them are going to interact over several episodes composed of stage-settings and separated by drawings, which work as substitutes for the establishing shots. This was the third play from Alan Ayckbourn to be adapted by Resnais - previous two were “Smoking/No Smoking” and “Private Fears in Public Places”, both considerably more successful. Even if somewhat tepid at times and struggling to extract the best from the cast, “Life of Riley” was superior to “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” from three years ago. The plot revolves around three couples (plus the daughter of one of them) whose relationships are jeopardized because of Riley, a mutual friend with only six months to live. While rehearsing for a play, the men are consumed by jealousy and feel abandoned while the women are battling one another to become Riley’s choice for a trip to Tenerife. The domestic quarrels flow in light tones and the J.M. Besset’s dialogues are pretty French. Hippolyte Girardot and Sabine AzĂ©ma’s performances stood out, categorically defining the quirkiest couple: Colin, the clock-watcher, and his agitated wife Kathryn. Each character’s close-up alludes to comics by using a gridded-pattern on the background. Not grandiose, but an honorable farewell for Mr. Resnais.

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