Clive Langham spends one tormenting night in his bed suffering from health problems and thinking up a story based on his relatives. He is a bitter man and he shows, through flashbacks, how spiteful, conniving and treacherous his family is. But is this how they really are or is it his own vindictive slant on things?
Director: Alain Resnais.
Writer: David Mercier.
Stars: John Gielgud, Dirk Bogarde, Ellen Burstyn, David Warner, Elaine Stritch, Denis Lawson, Samson Fainsilber, Tanya Lopert.
Alain Resnais’ first film in English stars John Gielgud, Dirk Bogarde, Ellen Burstyn, David Warner, and Elaine Stitch. The screenplay is by English writer, David Mercer. As you might expect from the director of LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD, the film is confusing at first but not inscrutable. I will refrain from going into a description of the plot so that, if you choose to see the film, you can enjoy being bewildered as I was. I will say that there’s a similarity to the 1986 BBC Mini-Series THE SINGING DETECTIVE. I will also say that this is a meaty film, the kind relished by actors, with Gielgud and Bogarde at the top of their game. 8/10 Bottles of White Wine
The meta-text is uneven, but the performances carried me aloft; raw guignol and swirling main stream avant gardism abounds as the realities and surrealities of the writers mind and the socio-political context du jour lap and layer with dialogue that sometimes staggers and sometimes flows, until we reach the final setting, where, unhindered by pontifical didactism, the family bring gifts and offer sustenance in terse, but ultimately salving moments of affection and understanding. I saw this forty years ago and only remembered Sir John and his suppositories. I was almost disappointed but his beautiful performance rallied my attentions and made finding this film here a gentle pleasure.