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With: Mathieu Amalric, Pierre Arditi, Sabine Azéma, Jean-NoĎl Brouté, Anne Consigny, Anny Duperey, Hippolyte Girardot, Gérard Lartigau, Michel Piccoli, Denis PodalydŹs, Michel Robin, Andrzej Seweryn, Jean-Chrétien Sibertin-Blanc, Michel Vuillermoz, Lambert Wilson
Written by: Alain Resnais, Laurent Herbiet, based on plays by Jean Anouilh
Directed by: Alain Resnais
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: French, with English subtitles
Running Time: 114
Date: 06/07/2013

You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet (2012)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Styled Play

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

French director Alain Resnais tickled the imaginations of moviegoers in 1961 with Last Year at Marienbad, and he's still doing it, fifty years later, with his latest movie, You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet.

Like a kind of Vanya on 42nd Street mixed with a bit of That Obscure Object of Desire, as well as a few new wrinkles, You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet begins when a series of great actors receive phone calls, informing them that legendary playwright Antoine d'Anthac has died. His last wish is to invite them all to his home for some mysterious gathering. Once there, the guests watch a film. d'Anthac appears onscreen and explains that a young theater troupe wishes to stage a version of his play Eurydice, in which all the gathered actors have previously performed. He wishes them to watch a film of the troupe's performance to judge its worthiness.

The actors, who include Michel Piccoli, Mathieu Amalric, Sabine Azéma, Pierre Arditi, Anne Consigny, Lambert Wilson, and Hippolyte Girardot, compulsively begin reciting their lines along with the actors on the screen. They begin playing scenes together. The scenes grow more elaborate. Older actors and younger actors -- all of whom have played the same parts over the years -- swap back and forth. Sometimes the attention returns to the film. And then, there does appear to be a point to it all.

The play is based on two actual plays, Eurydice and Cher Antoine ou l'Amour rate, by Jean Anouilh, and it's sort of a tragic romance between the characters Eurydice and Orpheus, with fantasy elements. I found that, like Vanya on 42nd Street, this movie is at least as much about the presentation of the play as it is about the plot of the play. So at times I found myself not following the story so much, as merely drifting along with the strange moods of the movie.

One of the major themes is age and time. Clearly the play is written for young people, and the lines of dialogue reflect this, but all of these performers are at least middle-aged. I feel as if Resnais might have focused more on the older versions of Eurydice and Orpheus than on the younger versions -- the older actors seem to get more screen time -- but this could be because Resnais himself is just past 90, and it still works.

Overall, You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet seems a relatively minor movie in Resnais' output, but it's nonetheless a terrific one, endlessly fascinating and inventive, and a celebration of the joys of acting. Kino Lorber has released the movie on DVD in the United States. There are no extras and no Blu-ray edition.

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