The Weekend Australian - Review - - Film - You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet

lan­guage, it must also be one that en­joys the fun of cin­ema for its own sake. Any­one al­ready fa­mil­iar with Res­nais will know the score; it’s some­thing ABC Ra­dio National’s film critic Ja­son Di Rosso says leaps be­yond the cer­tain­ties of ‘‘ the Hol­ly­wood in­dus­trial mode of film­mak­ing’’ to pro­duce an ‘‘ in­cred­i­bly play­ful’’ work of art. But Di Rosso warns po­ten­tial view­ers not to be over­whelmed by the chal­lenge.

‘‘ I think peo­ple can ap­proach th­ese films a lit­tle too se­ri­ously; I think they’re meant to also be plea­sur­able things, as well as be­ing things that are quite deep and make you think and po­ten­tially send you off on all sorts of weird in­tel­lec­tual tan­gents,’’ he says. ‘‘ They’re meant to be things that you en­joy, and they’re meant to (also) have the vis­ceral side to it — they’re meant to have (an) emo­tional im­pact.’’

In fact, Di Rosso sug­gests, it wouldn’t have been pos­si­ble to have a film­maker of the cal­i­bre of idio­syn­cratic US au­teur David Lynch with­out hav­ing had ones such as Res­nais be­fore him.

‘‘ It’s that play, that de­lib­er­ate and very in­ter­est­ing blur­ring of the lines be­tween past, present, re­al­ity, imag­i­na­tion, that make his films so be­guil­ing and won­der­fully play­ful, and that also no doubt in­spired much bet­ter known film­mak­ers,’’ he says.

‘‘ There’s that won­der­ful way with a film­maker like Lynch, say in Mul­hol­land Drive, where two story-lines are blur­ring: are you watch­ing a dream, are you watch­ing a frag­ment of mem­ory that’s been ex­panded?’’

You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet makes ex­plicit use of Res­nais’s love of the theatre; the di­rec­tor has said he thinks the two forms are in­ti­mately re­lated, de­spite a tra­di­tion of re­gard­ing them as sep­a­rate.

‘‘ Peo­ple of­ten say there’s a to­tal dif­fer­ence,’’ he said at a press con­fer­ence af­ter the film screened at Cannes last year. ‘‘ That one doesn’t act for a film the same way one acts for the theatre, and vice versa . . . that theatre is a no­ble art, whereas film is not.’’

But a key tie bind­ing the two forms to­gether, he sug­gests, is the fact at the mo­ment of a the­atri­cal per­for­mance, ‘‘ you can­not raise your hand in the room and say, I didn’t re­ally un­der­stand, could you start the scene again? You have to con­tinue, you have to lis­ten and you have to try to un­der­stand as a spec­ta­tor. And at the cin­ema, up un­til now, I haven’t seen any­one go to see the tech­ni­cal staff and say, well, could I please see the sec­ond se­quence again be­cause I fell asleep in the mid­dle of the film or I didn’t fol­low.’’

His state­ment sug­gests a play­ful­ness about the act of film­mak­ing, some­thing long-time muse (and, since 1998, wife) Azema con­firms in an in­ter­view with Re­view.

Res­nais, she says, is ‘‘ the in­ven­tor of his own kind of cin­ema’’ who ‘‘ breathes it from morn­ing to evening — he’s like cin­ema walk­ing on two legs’’. The re­sult is that he in­vites the au­di­ence to join in his game; ‘‘ to love the idea of en­ter­tain­ment’’.

‘‘ This film ( You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet) is it­self a game,’’ she says. ‘‘ It starts with us, the ac­tors, in­tro­duc­ing our­selves with our real names and soon af­ter we un­der­stand that the movie shifts on to the text, (which) is cin­ema but also theatre; ac­tu­ally it is en­ter­tain­ment with a cap­i­tal E. And that re­flects the love that Res­nais has for all forms of en­ter­tain­ment, not only cin­ema and theatre but mu­sic; he loves the idea of the cur­tain lift­ing. That’s when the show be­gins.’’

She de­scribes it as be­ing ‘‘ a bit like a Rus­sian doll, a box within a box’’ and sug­gests that for this rea­son the film re­wards mul­ti­ple view­ings, a won­der­fully ironic no­tion given its ti­tle. ‘‘ It’s full of many di­rec­tions which you can only ap­pre­ci­ate if you see it mul­ti­ple times,’’ she says. ‘‘ It’s all mixed and min­gled by the great pup­peteer who is Alain Res­nais; the game in the game that is also the act­ing in the act­ing.’’

The ti­tle it­self be­gan, it turns out, as a play­ful thing. Ac­cord­ing to Res­nais, even be­fore the film was made ‘‘ we said this as a joke to start with . . . and it be­came a kind of proverb, a say­ing, and we didn’t think it would stick, but it was writ­ten on the (film) boxes; we had la­bels with the ti­tle on them’’.

Crit­ics ini­tially took the name to be an ironic ac­knowl­edg­ment that Res­nais had pro­duced all there was to be seen of his films, a sug­ges­tion made re­dun­dant once it emerged he was al­ready work­ing on a new one, based on an­other play­wright with whom he has col­lab­o­rated and whose ma­te­rial he ad­mires, Bri­ton Alan Ay­ck­bourn.

Ever try­ing to con­found ex­pec­ta­tions, Res­nais is adamant about one thing: that none of his many works should be linked to any oth­ers, even his own bril­liant Hiroshima Mon Amour or Riva in Haneke’s Amour which are, af­ter all, so close to You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet in so many ways.

‘‘ I try not to re­peat my­self, ever,’’ he said at Cannes. ‘‘ If I had re­alised that in this film peo­ple thought it was a kind of a tes­ta­ment then I wouldn’t have been bold enough or en­er­getic enough to shoot it, so let’s just (say it’s) a co­in­ci­dence.’’

Per­haps, you might say, we still ain’t seen noth­ing yet.

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