The final film of Alain Resnais Life of Riley is his third adaptation of British playwright Alan Ayckbourn after Smoking/No Smoking (1993) and Private Fears in Public Places (2006), is a farewell to the world from a truly great artist.
In the midst of rehearsals for a new play, amateur dramatists Colin (Hippolyte Girardot) and Kathryn (Sabine Azema) receive the news that their friend George is fatally ill. Life begins to come apart at the seams - not just for the lead pair, but also their friends Tamara (Caroline Silhol) and Monica (Sandrine Kiberlain), who along with Kathryn all hold a candle for the dying George. Long buried dreams begin to surface, and much to the chagrin of their husbands the three women fight amongst themselves to see who accompanies George on his final journey on holiday to Tenerife.
Placing the action in an almost entire studio world, Resnais succeeds in creating an artificial world for the characters to perform in. The fact they are breaking into reading of lines from time to time, whilst discussing the welfare of George, means the wall is broken in terms of performance by the couples. Especially Colin and Kathryn who break character to carry on bickering about their marriage.
In some ways, Resnais being the natural observer of life he is, he allows his characters to follow their hopes and desires to the extreme and have it front and centre instead of repressed and simmering under the surface.
Shot with full of colour in the set design and the costumes worn by the characters especially the three women who all wear bold colours throughout, the film stands as a testament to the Resnais oeuvre and a fitting finale to his career.
Life of Riley is out now from Eureka Entertainment