The film describes the process of literary creation. Part of the story unfolds in the imagination of Clive Langham, a famous writer who has learnt that he has only a few months of life left and, on the eve of his seventieth birthday, is working on his last novel: a story in which he speaks of himself, his memories and his family. The links and divergences between art and life are underlined. Believing he is describing others, he describes himself, revealing hidden aspects of his personality.
Alain Resnais’ first feature in English (1977, 110 min.) focuses on the imagination, dreams, and memories of an aging British novelist (John Gielgud) over one night as he mentally composes and recomposes his last book, using members of his immediate family — Dirk Bogarde, Ellen Burstyn, David Warner, and Elaine Stritch — as his models. Although David Mercer’s witty, aphoristic script can be British to a fault, the film’s rich mental landscape is a good deal more universal, with everything from H.P. Lovecraft’s werewolves to a painted seaside backdrop providing the essential textures. Like all of Resnais’ best work, this is shot through with purposeful and lyrical enigmas, but the family profile that emerges is warm and penetrating, recalling the haunted Tyrones in Long Day’s Journey Into Night rather than the pieces of an abstract puzzle. The superb performances and Miklos Rozsa’s sumptuous Hollywood-style score give the film’s conceit a moving monumentality and depth, and Resnais’ insights into the fiction-making process are mesmerizing and beautiful. (Jonathan Rosenbaum)
2.31GB | 1 h 42 min | 960×576 | mkv