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From beyond the grave, celebrated playwright Antoine d'Anthac gathers together all his friends who have appeared over the years in his play "Eurydice." These actors watch a recording of the work performed by a young acting company, La Compagnie de la Colombe. Do love, life, death and love after death still have any place on a theater stage? It's up to them to decide. And the surprises have only just begun... Written by
You Ain't Seen Nothing' Yet! is an elegant endeavor concerning a group of veteran actors (all of whom are playing themselves) who are gathered at a recently-deceased playwright's home to view his will. They sit in a lavish but obviously artificial set that is his screening room and are told they are about to view one of the man's play, titled Eurydice performed by a young cast of actors who are a part of "La Compagnie de la Colombe." While the actors are much too old to play the roles now, they nevertheless begin reciting the dialog themselves, acting it out in the screening room, and eventually, all throughout the playwright's home. The entire thing becomes a smooth and fascinating depiction of nostalgia, age, and life itself.
Ostensibly, there isn't much here to warrant a film, but director Alain Resnais, who is ninety-one years old, instills energy and fuel into the story at hand, almost making You Ain't Seen Nothing' Yet! to be the work of a younger filmmaker. However, the elements dealing with age and love assure this is the work of an older, more experienced soul. The film shows the mindset and the captivation of a group of people who just discovered that one of their influences has died and they're watching his swan song. Because of this, they seem to recount their own lives, realize that there time may be soon indeed. They start to channel their younger-selves, become caught up in the moment, and energetically perform the play they once did years back in an impromptu manner. It's like watching your grandparents quote events from their life or sit around the dinner table and talk about things they once did.
The whole exercise is nostalgic and whimsical, and Resnais does a beautiful job at making sure we're not exactly sure we're the film is going to go. An exercise like this could become dry after a while (and, to be fair, the film does sort of run its course by the seventy-minute mark). Therefore, Resnais includes eccentric, comedic elements, in addition to lyrical direction to keep audiences attentive to what they're watching.
The final piece to take note of are the sets, which look like sets straight out of a play (for all I know they are). The artificial-look of the aesthetics give the film sort of a self-referential kind of feel, as if we're watching people watching a play inside a play. Whether or not that was the intention of Resnais, I can't say, but the feeling provides for a pleasantly close-to-home aspect for the film.
You Ain't Seen Nothing' Yet! is five minutes shy of two hours and feels every bit as long. After so long, the film becomes a bit grating and seems to run out of steam. But thanks to Resnais being aware of this and the themes the film does propose, it manages to rise past its runtime to show us some truly memorable takeaway points. The film is also a beautiful showcase of French acting, in addition to its themes of life and love. It's one of the most idiosyncratic and personal stories of the year.
Directed by: Alain Resnais.
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