Alain Resnais

Alain Resnais – Mon oncle d’Amérique AKA My American Uncle (1980)

Mon oncle d’Amérique (“My American Uncle”) is a 1980 French film directed by Alain Resnais. The film stars Gérard Depardieu, Nicole Garcia, and Roger Pierre.

The didactic film is built around the ideas of French physician, writer and philosopher Henri Laborit, who plays himself in the film. It uses the stories of three people to illustrate Laborit’s theories on evolutionary psychology regarding the relationship of self and society. Read More »

Alain Resnais – Toute la Memoire du Monde aka All the Memory of the World (1956)

With Toute la mémoire du monde, Resnais is setting the basis of his cinematographic project about places of memory. Within 20 minutes, Resnais is surgically, methodically analyzing the national library of France. With an hyperactive camera, he’s sneaking, he’s smelling, he’s feeling this huge building. Read More »

Alain Resnais – Les herbes folles AKA Wild Grass (2009)


Alain Resnais demonstrates he still has plenty to say in this drama based on a novel by Christian Gailly. Marguerite (Sabine Azéma) is a successful dentist with a busy practice and an offbeat hobby, flying small airplanes. One day, while running errands, Marguerite loses her wallet, and it’s found by Georges (André Dussollier), a seemingly happy man with a wife, Suzanne (Anne Consigny), and two children (Vladimir Consigny and Sara Forestier). As Georges looks through the wallet and examines the photos of Marguerite, he finds he’s fascinated with her and her life, and soon his curiosity about her becomes an obsession. Georges’ attempts to integrate himself into Marguerite’s life begin to alarm her, and she hires a private security team (Mathieu Amalric and Michel Vuillermoz) to keep him away, but Georges is determined that his new love for her will not be denied. (Mark Deming) Read More »

Alain Resnais – Nuit et brouillard AKA Night and Fog (1955)


There is a dual meaning behind the title of Alain Resnais’ eviscerating holocaust documentary, Night and Fog: a reference to the arrival of interned prisoners into concentration camps under the cloak of darkness, and the subconscious suppression of knowledge and culpability for the resulting horror of the committed atrocities. Arguably one of the finest documentaries ever captured on film, Night and Fog opens with the fluid, horizontal tracking of an idyllic, seemingly impressionistic, barren countryside. But this is no ordinary remote open field. It is 1955, and this is postwar Poland, the site: Auschwitz. Using highly unsettling, archival footage recorded during postwar liberation contrasted against the stillness of the modern-day landscape, Resnais creates a powerful, haunting chronicle of cruelty, dehumanization, and denial of personal responsibility. Read More »

Alain Resnais – Aimer, boire et chanter AKA Life of Riley (2014)


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 …
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Alain Resnais – L’amour à mort AKA Love Unto Death (1984)



L’Amour à Mort (Love Unto Death) is one of the more difficult Resnais films of the 80s. Featuring a core of actors from La Vie Est un Roman who would also go on to make Mélo (and are still working with Resnais on his most recent films), the film has a chamber mood, an enclosed and tightly constructed meditation on two complex subjects – love and death.

Elisabeth (Sabine Azéma) and Simon (Pierre Arditi) have been together as a couple for only a few months when Simon dies. To everyone’s surprise he revives after a few minutes and appears to be quite healthy again. The couple’s relationship appears to become more intense, but Simon is unable to come to terms with his near-death experience, feeling an irresistible desire to withdraw from life. Their friends, a married couple of Protestant pastors, Judith (Fanny Ardant) and Jérôme (André Dussollier) try to rationalise how Simon and Elisabeth must feel, offering guidance and consolation through theological and philosophical discussions, but the couple are beyond the reach of human understanding or explanation, and the pervasive and persuasive music of ‘the other’, of a love beyond death, exerts an irresistible attraction. Read More »

Alain Resnais – Coeurs AKA Private Fears In Public Places (2006)


Private Fears in Public Places, (French: Cœurs (“Hearts”), is a 2006 French film directed by Alain Resnais. It was adapted from Alan Ayckbourn’s play Private Fears in Public Places. The film won several awards, including a Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

In Paris, six people all look for love, despite typically having their romantic aspirations dashed at every turn.

For the second time in his career Alain Resnais turned to an Alan Ayckbourn play for his source material (having previously adapted another play for Smoking/No Smoking), and remained close to the original structure while transferring the setting and milieu from provincial England to the 13th arrondissement of Paris (contrary to his usual preference). Read More »