You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet (French: Vous n’avez encore rien vu), 2012.
Directed by Alain Resnais.
Starring Mathieu Amalric, Pierre Arditi and Sabine Azéma.
A group of actors are invited to watch a recorded interpretation of their deceased friend’s play ‘Eurydice’, which each of the assembled group had previously starred in.
I remember 2007, and in particular I remember reading Xan Brooks’ piece on The Guardian’s web site: ‘First Ingmar Bergman, now Michelangelo Antonioni.’ One sentence in that piece has haunted me since, sparking an expectant fear that I cannot dismiss. At the time Xan wrote about the concern of an art-house apocalypse, and considering the age of Resnais, Godard and Rohmer at the time, his point was well taken. Since then Alain Resnais’ 2009 film Wild Grass marked a return to form, and the latest entry in the auteur’s canon You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet was screened at the 56th BFI London Film Festival before arriving on DVD this month.
The cinema of Resnais can be slow and meandering, highly experimental, and will inherently isolate itself from a broad audience, for some Resnais’ creative voice problematic and inaccessible. His films are above all an experience, and this aging director remains a creator of worlds from which derives a distinct sense of feeling separate from the voice of every other filmmaker and filmic experience they offer. Resnais still makes films as if he were a young man, his cinema a continuous experiment. In this Resnais dares to exclude scenes, replacing them instead with title cards, white text on a black background describing the action rather than showing it. It is in these moments that the youthful subversive Resnais is recalled, how he and his contemporaries forever lit the spark that changed cinema. There are the inevitable reflective traits of a Resnais narrative, an exploration of the metaphysics of performance. He challenges the supposition that the staged should ever be able to realistically transpose itself into the real, and he even goes so far as to suspend the belief in the minds of its audience. The intrusion on the play by the assembled guests dispels any belief that the staged is anything but the sum of its parts.
You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet features a cast compromised of some of French cinema’s most recognisable actors: Michael Piccoli, Sabine Azéma and Mathieu Amalric to name just a few; and Resnais unashamedly places us in the same position as the assembled audience in the film itself, spectators consciously aware that there is no reason to attempt to suspend our belief. It is after all staged and is not real.
The difficulty when encountering the film is Resnais’ indulgence, a belief that the film requires its expansive running time. But this is Resnais, a director whose films function on an instinctual level. They are an experience, sometimes difficult to define as either a ‘good film’ or ‘bad film.’ Rather it is that unique sense of feeling that one derives from his cinema, which comes through the performances he can inspire, the dialogue, or his gentle but potent observations on life, art, love and death. His latest features all the charm that has defined his cinema, a long and endurance testing reflection on art and love, but also the theatre and performance as a personal experience. If it seems like meandering indulgence, rest assured that there is a point to it all, a point he maybe takes longer to get to than he should, but he nevertheless does succeed in bringing the film to a memorable conclusion. Yes, a long time building to the memorable crescendo, but nonetheless worth the wait, the ending further testament of Resnais deserved reputation as a master filmmaker.
You can read Xan Brooks’ full article ‘First Ingmar Bergman, now Michelangelo Antonioni’ on The Guardian Film Blog.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★
Paul Risker is a freelance writer and contributor to Flickering Myth, Scream The Horror Magazine and The London Film Review.