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Montréal: Tribute to Alain Resnais

August 28, 2014 | By francecanadaculture Ottawa
Alain Resnais ©france-inter

The World Film Festival of Montréal (MWFF), that will run August 21 to September 1, 2014, pays a posthumous tribute to Alain Resnais at this year’s Festival to mark his extraordinary career.

For this occasion, three of his most famous masterpieces will be shown : Hiroshima mon amour (1959), Mon oncle d'Amérique (1980), and his final movie, Life of Riley, (Aimer, boire et chanter, 2013), that will receive its North American premiere to close the 38th Montréal World Film Festival on September 1st.

Hippolyte Girardot will be present to represent the film and accept the tribute in Resnais’ name. A veteran of nearly 70 films, Girardot previously worked with Resnais on You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet, released in 2012.

“By showing Life of Riley, we hope to pay posthumous tribute of one of the giants of French cinema in the name of all who loved his work,” declared Serge Losique. “The MWFF has played an important role in honoring French cinema over the years and it was natural than we would introduce Resnais’ final film to North America.”


One of the giants of French cinema, Resnais (3 June 1922 – 1 March 2014) began his career in the late 1950s and consolidated his early reputation with Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959), Last Year at Marienbad (1961), and Muriel (1963), all of which adopted unconventional narrative techniques to deal with themes of troubled memory and the imagined past.

These films were contemporary with, and associated with, the French New Wave, though Resnais did not regard himself as being fully part of that movement. He had closer links to the “Left Bank” group of authors and filmmakers who shared a commitment to modernism and an interest in left-wing politics. In later films, Resnais moved away from the overtly political topics of some previous works and developed his interests in an interaction between cinema and other cultural forms, including theatre, music, and comic books. This led to imaginative adaptations of plays by Alan Ayckbourn, Henri Bernstein and Jean Anouilh, as well as films featuring various kinds of popular song.

He worked especially with Chris Marker, Agnès Varda, Marguerite Duras, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Sabine Azéma, André Dussolier, Pierre Arditti, Delphine Seyrig, Sandrine Kiberlain ...

“Only the vivacious die young, notes one character in Life of Riley, while ‘the tiresome, humdrum ones live forever.’ But if that’s true, then surely Resnais himself is the exception that proves the rule. Turning for the third time to the work of British playwright Alan Ayckbourn -- after Smoking/No Smoking (1993) and Coeurs (2006) -- whose highly theatrical comedies of manners have made good matches for Resnais’ consuming interest in form as a vessel for character and emotion, ‘Life’ doesn’t find the 91-year-old helmer doing anything he hasn’t done before, but it does find him doing it in ebullient, beautifully stylized fashion, aided by an able-bodied ensemble drawn from his regular corps of traveling players.” – Scott Foundas (Variety)

The last film: Life of Riley, (Aimer, boire et chanter)

In the midst of rehearsals for a new play, amateur dramatics proponents Colin and Kathryn receive the shattering news that their friend George is fatally ill and only has a few months to live. Life begins to come apart at the seams – not just for Kathryn, who was once George’s partner, but also for her friends Tamara and Monica. The full force of the emotional turmoil they experienced in their youth and their long-buried dreams are rekindled. Much to the chagrin of their respectable, middle-class husbands, the women begin to argue about which of them should be allowed to accompany George on a final journey …

Source: Montréal World Film Festival

Alain Resnais' biography


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