Alain Resnais’ Aimer, boire et chanter will close the MWFF

Friday July 11, 2022

Alain Resnais’ last film, Aimer, boire et chanter (Life of Riley), will receive its North American premiere to close the 38th Montreal World Film Festival on September 1, it was announced by Festival president Serge Losique and director-general Danièle Cauchard.

Resnais 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.

“By showing Aimer, boire et chanter 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.”

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 …


“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 MWFF will later announce who will accompany the film at its showing


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