LIFE OF RILEY
We take a break from our regular science fiction, horror and fantasy coverage to bring you a review of a French film which heavily involves Yorkshire. Thank god we cover cult entertainment now, otherwise this would be so far outside our remit it would be on the other side of the galaxy.
If you’re one of those types that isn’t really interested in plays or mundane fiction about everyday life, then don’t worry. We are just like you and we still found a lot to enjoy here; this adaptation of an Alan Ayckbourn play is certainly something to behold.
Featuring more colours than a Pantone paint palette (sometimes to its detriment; you’ll be so busy looking at the rainbow on offer that you’ll have missed three screens’ worth of plot-critical subtitles), this film has taken an unusual approach to scenery and decor, choosing to represent houses or a theatre interior with decorated fabric drapes. It is a strange choice to be sure, but the intention seems to have been to remind viewers of the film’s roots, and we can’t fault the filmmakers for that.
But we haven’t mentioned the most interesting part yet. The whole film is about a character (George Riley, a randy teacher) who never actually appears. Rather, the film is about the impact that his impending death has on his friends. His inevitable demise hangs over the film like the sword of Damocles. The fact that you never see him renders this especially effective, as it seems that any cut could be accompanied by a time jump and his death announced solemnly in the next scene.
There’s so much here that we haven’t been able to cover. There’s the rich dialogue (some of which remains laughably unchanged from when the play used doors), the elegant transitions and lush cinematography. The film is an oddity, to be sure, but it’s a charming look into the mindset of middle age.
Special Features: Cast interviews / Interview with critic Geoffrey O’Brien / Original theatrical trailer / 36-page booklet
INFO: LIFE OF RILEY / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: ALAIN RESNAIS / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: SABINE AZEMA, SANDRINE KIBERLAIN, CAROLINE SIHOL, ANDRE DUSSOLLIER, HIPPOLYTE GIRARDOT / RELEASE DATE: MAY 25TH