Life Of Riley


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Hippolyte Girardot and Sabine Azéma in Life Of Riley
"The film is log jammed in a theatrical setting that doesn't exist" | Photo: F as movie / Arnaud Borrel

You can use cinematic effects on stage - Danny Boyle's Frankenstein, for example - but it doesn't work the other way round.

Alain Resnais' adaptation of Alan Ayckbourn's play is artificial to its core, but that's intentional. Cocteau played with such concepts with imagination and was hailed by the nouveau riche and the nouvelle vague as l'innovator surprise.

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Ayckbourn's theatrical tricks, such as never meeting his protagonist, are just that - tricksy. He is better with his women because they change their minds and are emotionally honest, unlike the men.

Riley, the invisible hero of the play, has been diagnosed with The Big C. His former wife and lovers live nearby in Yorkshire with their dull, rich, jealous partners. One couple has a teenage daughter who is having an 18th birthday party, in the course of which Riley's irresistible charm and sex appeal - he's dying, so what? - raises eyebrows across the floor.

Under the guise of investigating the intricate nuances of marital life a question lingers in the minds of those who wait and watch: who is going to Tenerife for a fortnight with Riley? All the women have been asked, independently and in secret - to resurrect passionate moments? To nurse the guy through his final fling? To rediscover sexual feelings?

It's a talkie. The actors are word perfect and yet the film is log jammed in a theatrical setting that doesn't exist. Ayckbourne is an observer of English mores, at least their hypocrisies, and Resnais is a serious filmmaker of the French persuasion.

There is no connection.

Reviewed on: 16 Nov 2014
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A group of close friends discover that one of them only has a few months to live.
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Amber Wilkinson **1/2

Director: Alain Resnais

Writer: Alan Ayckbourn, Jean-Marie Besset, Laurent Herbiet, Alain Resnais, Caroline Silhol

Starring: Sandrine Kiberlain, André Dussollier, Sabine Azéma, Hippolyte Girardot, Alba Gaïa Kraghede Bellugi, Michel Vuillermoz, Caroline Sihol, Travis Kerschen

Year: 2014

Runtime: 108 minutes

Country: France

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