Relax, classic rock fans,
The screenplay, credited to Laurent Herbiet and Alex Réval (Resnais' alias), based on the Jean Anouilh plays "Eurydice" and "Cher Antoine ou l'amour Rate," finds a group of notable actors, all playing themselves, requested by the butler of suddenly deceased playwright Antoine d'Anthac (Denis Podalydès) to gather, "Clue"-like, at the writer's country chateau. The purpose: to evaluate a recently recorded rehearsal of D'Anthac's — not Anouilh's — play titled "Eurydice" as performed by an experimental theater company. That all of the invitees have appeared in D'Anthac's tragic drama at some point in their careers is a commonality that will prove unexpectedly resonant.
What begins as a simple, video screen viewing by the guests of this latest take on D'Anthac's "Eurydice" evolves into a play within a play within a movie (and, at times, more) as the veteran actors start performing the show alongside or in place of the videotaped cast, poignantly re-creating the same roles they once had as their younger selves.
It's all way more fluid and seamless — and less gimmicky — than it may sound. As the four-act play progresses, the "live" actors do most of the heavy lifting, disappearing, amid gorgeous stage lighting and a few surreally appearing sets, into the stage work's heady text involving the brief romance between ill-fated, mythically inspired lovers Eurydice and Orpheus. Two sets of actors — one middle-aged (
Resnais' occasional use of split-screen and other traditional special effects enhances the picture's various dualities, dreamy quality and decided staginess. Not unlike Joss Whedon's recent reimagining of "Much Ado About Nothing," there's a puckish, just-go-with-it quality to the inventive proceedings but the end result here is far more moving and meditative.
While "You Ain't" is a film for specialized audiences — and patience is certainly required — it provides a front-row seat to watch superb actors, also including Hippolyte Girardot, Jean-Noël Brouté, Gérard Lartigau, Michel Robin and Jean-Chrétien Sibertin-Blanc, and, of course, a world-class director strut their stuff in rare and, yes, rarefied form.
'You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet'
MPAA rating: Unrated
Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
Language: In French with English subtitles
Playing: At Laemmle's Royal, West Los Angeles; Laemmle's Town Center 5, Encino; Laemmle's Playhouse 7, Pasadena