What is it like to play?

As long as you live you should play

Alain Resnais' farewell work Aimer, boire et chanter. A text by Lukas Förster

Resnais' films not only live forever, they also stay forever young.

One of the many miracles in Alain Resnais ’(film) biography since this year can also be counted on the fact that she has also reflected on her own end. And twice. Both Vous n'avez encore rien vu (you'll be surprised) from 2012 and his last trick Aimer, boire et chanter, which premiered a few weeks before his death at the Berlinale, are different to one funeral films organized around empty center. Both films prove to be festivals of life at the same time, which can be reduced to a simple as well as ingenious denominator: as long as one is alive, one should act (and woman too, absolutely ...). In Vous n'avez encore rien vu, after his death, a playwright had rounded up his favorite actors by video message for a final joint performance. In the new film, the imminent death of George Riley brings together a small circle of former lovers and friends, who then decide to integrate their old companion, despite his serious illness, into a play that they are currently planning themselves ("Life of Riley" is the name of the play by Alan Ayckbourn, on which the film is based; Ayckbourn is a favorite author of Resnais', who had previously adapted two other works by the British). One of the highlights of the matter: Although the women in particular are obsessively buzzing around this Riley and can hardly be kept in check by their husbands and fathers, the supposed main character himself does not appear once in the entire film.

Aimer, boire et chanter writes the space of the theater, the stage, particularly explicitly in the cinema room, even by Resnais' standards: After a lively and deliberately crude prologue, which makes it unmistakably clear that what follows is a farce from the provinces - namely: from of the deepest province - almost the entire film takes place in just three locations. More precisely in the front gardens of three houses, where there is extensive argument about Riley. The houses only consist of colored strips hung next to each other that can be pushed apart and walked through like stage curtains, the flowers in the garden are painted, the lighting effects (beautifully) stylized. In one of the gardens, an animated mole greets you as the secret star of the film. And when the film switches from the frontal ensemble shots, which it mainly consists of, to the close-up, then the faces suddenly write themselves in a completely different room, in a black and white fluted one that is reminiscent of the panels of comics. And because all of this is not yet self-reflective and media-reflective enough: In the opposite of one of these garden stages, which is not accessible to the cinematic view, a second stage is set up in the course of the film, on which a theater play that is invisible to the cinema audience is rehearsed.

Aimer, boire et chanter lets the artfully orchestrated garden chat only slowly escalate, but finally, after the amusingly relaxed beginning, takes a melodramatic turn that is surprisingly intensely played out and staged (and to the end of which the film is ultimately from the semi-public of the Gardens changes into the neurotically tinged privacy of their own four walls; memories of Melo, one of the most beautiful, also very theatrical films by the director, are awakened. The desire of women and the jealousy of men are directed more and more exclusively towards the invisible, terminally ill George. The film ends with a farewell ceremony, which in turn completely throws all previously established rules overboard and, in the mysterious final scene, brings another medium into play with photography. In a game that you don't really want to believe that it should really have come to an end. It is better to remember Vous n'avez encore rien vu again; to the director who, even after his death, is still able to put this world into joyful, downright ecstatic unrest. That's also true: Resnais ’films not only live forever, they also stay forever young, and will continue to present a challenge in the future for the everyday life of the cinema, which is usually much too good and much too good in E and U culture.

Excerpt from a text by Lukas Förster, published in our Stadtkino newspaper