At this point in his illustrious career, you can forgive Alain Resnais for being indulgent. I mean, the guy’s been around the block a few times, after all. His latest film, the ironically titled You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet is undeniably indulgent, but the joie de vivre running through it makes for an entertaining watch, even if it’s ultimately as hollow as its title. The film follows a group of actors (all playing themselves) who, upon hearing that one of their friends, a respected playwright, has died, flock to his estate to hear his final wishes – he wants them to watch an adaptation of his play on video (a play that they have all acted in previously). As the recording plays, the actors begin to take on their old roles, re-enacting the play in its entirety.
This is a film exploring the appeal of art beyond the life of the artist, which in itself is an interesting topic, but Resnais doesn’t do anything with it except let it play out. The actors perform their way through the play, and the film ends. There’s nothing else to it. It’s an idea that would’ve made for a half-decent short, but spreading it over 115 minutes means You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet massively overstays its welcome. Resnais does the best he can with the repetitive material, and to his credit his film is never boring, But it all seems a bit of a waste of time when his point is made about half an hour in. The exploration of art beyond life isn’t made any richer with an extended runtime. What he doesn’t seem to realise is that his films are already so well respected already, and that making films as below him as You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet can only serve to tarnish his reputation. And that’d be a damn shame.
- Matt Mansfield