Alain Resnais back in Cannes competition at 89

The Cannes Film Festival received a dose of theater Monday in the form of French director Alain Resnais' new film.

"You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" is a love letter to the acting profession that shows a troupe of thespians performing a play based on the Greek myth of lovers Orpheus and Eurydice.

There are several plays-within-a-play in the drama, which features a who's who of French dramatic talent, including Lambert Wilson, Michel Piccoli and Mathieu Amalric.

The 89-year-old Resnais told reporters that he was trying to show the similarities between theater and film, often portrayed as completely different art forms.

He said Monday that "people often say that the theater is a noble art whereas films are not."

But, he said, "in both cases, you need actors" — and both plays and films need to keep an audience enthralled.

"When a scene is being played in the theater you can't raise your hand in the room and say 'I didn't really understand, can you start the scene again?'" Resnais said. "You have to listen and try to understand.

"And at the cinema, up until now I haven't seen anyone go to the technical staff and say, 'Could I please see the second sequence again because I fell asleep in the middle of the film? These are parallels between the theater and the cinema. These are things they have in common."

"You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" is one of 22 films competing for prizes at the French Riviera film festival, which runs until Sunday.

Resnais became a pioneering figure in French cinema half a century ago with adventurous films such as "Hiroshima Mon Amour" and "Last Year at Marienbad."

He won Cannes' second prize in 1980 for "My American Uncle," and the festival gave him a lifetime achievement prize in 2009.

The director turns 90 in June but is not ready to retire. He's planning a new film, a comedy based on an Alan Ayckbourn farce.

"You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" is, in part, a meditation on aging and death. Several generations of actors play musician Orpheus and Eurydice, the bride he tries to rescue from the underworld.

But Resnais said he did not look back when making films.

He said his philosophy was: "I try not to repeat myself, ever."

Resnais also said that if he thought people were going to see the film as his last testament, "I wouldn't have had the courage or energy to make it."


Jill Lawless can be reached at