The consolable

By Fernando Ganzo

(leer en castellano)

Actually, if we cut the lecture, everything in a film boils down to its charm. And when a film asks itself to be rough, unbreathable and aloof (a decision that I quite like and that it doesn´t keep this film from scoring big, sometimes, in terms of the mise en scène; others it´s only beautiful), the seduction of it rests on the charm of the performers: for better (Amalric) or for worse (Girardot). And so the pleasure of Vous n´avez encore rien vu is the same as in Smoking/No Smoking: to strip off the performances in order to make them beautiful—although the concept of the film seemed originally to be the opposite. The characters played by Azéma, Amalric, Wilson, Arditi, Consigny, Piccoli and Girardot turn up in a strange mansion where they have been summoned by the butler of a playwright who has just died. A screen is uncovered and they are encouraged to watch a video in which the playwright himself asks them to watch a recording of one of his own plays, performed by a young local company. It is a play that they themselves have interpreted several times in the past, and the playwright asks them to decide whether they will allow the young company to adapt it. Do you remember Marienbad, where the characters see a play (by the Ibsenesque name of “Rosmer”) that they are about to live themselves later on? Albeit there are no long corridors in this film (or long tracking shots to throw us into a sea of mystery), we can´t help being surprised constantly, although this time we do know what´s going on. The characters are moved by the emotions of recalling the play and they begin to act it out again as the recording progresses. Encore. Mise en abyss. A film that it´s constantly on the run and doesn´t let us quite catch it until we are well into it; and a film, ultimately, that welcomes itself in its roughness and in the moments when it is most out of reach, for then the performances become wonderfully bare while Resnais is about his task—and it is one that he masters. It is, after all, what they once said of Cruyff: “He runs a lot, but he´s good.”

Raptures of memory transform the stage with virtual aesthetics almost as if the performers where playing their own rendition of Inmemory (Chris Marker, 1997). Those are emotions that come from the memory as much as from watching the play. For instance, when Arditi and Azéma transport themselves into their old roles, possessed by their memories, all the other guests watch them from a distance: actors watching other actors. And beauty lies in that distance, which is even bigger in contrast with the undisguised clumsiness of the young performers. Those are the living universe (filmed by Bruno Podalydès) that rescues the old players from the land of the dead, bringing them back into the stage. There is a somber (coffin-like) approach to lighting on Resnais´ part, as opposed to the natural lighting used by Podalydès. The first one sees things very much from behind the curtain already, but at the same time he is celebrating the sheer joy of artifice and the little big joy of stories that are to be performed forever; and thus he is granting us, once more, another show of illusions and fake continuities between life and death. Those happy moments would have been appreciate as nice tablets, had they belong to our everyday life, but here in Cannes (and just 24 hours after we have seen Haneke´s last film) they feel very much like a blood transfusion in the main line.

Translated from Spanish by Hugo Obregón

Official Selection
FRANCE. 2012. 115’
Director: Alain Resnais.
Script: Alain Resnais, Laurent Herbiert,
Alex Réval (from a novel by Jean Anouilh).
Cinematography: Eric Gautier.
Editing: Hervé de Luze.
Sound: Nicolas Becker, Matthieu Fichet.
Music: Mark Snow.
Casting: Mathieu Amalric, Lambert Wilson, Michel Piccoli,
Sabine Azéma, Anne Consigny, Hippolyte Girardot,
Pierre Arditi, Denis Podalydès, Michel Robin.