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When six couples in Yorkshire learn that their best friend George Riley has only six months to live they invite him to take part in the amateur play in order to take his mind off his gloomy fate. George's illness, and the agitation that surrounds it, opens the can of worms. Secrets are revealed, passions are re-ignited and friendships are questioned. How well do we know our partners? And how well do we know ourselves?
Life of Riley is based on the play of the same name by English playwright Alan Ayckbourn, but the French name of the movie has direct translation as "LOVE DRINK AND SING". The film is a great way to see the play, but it doesn't deserve a wide screen release. Shot in a very stylised decorations, it is really a video recording of a stage production. The outside scenes look like stock footage and the static camera work places us at a point of view in an imaginary theatre, where we can see characters only from one boring angle. The extreme close ups during monologue shots have a cheap looking scratchy background that comes straight from eighties. All was intentional, but this approach by the director Alain Resnais seems awkward in modern day filmmaking. Resnais, who had passed away in March 2014 at the age of 91, should be praised however for the energetic tone of the film and the direction of some fine performances that are fun to watch.
Being a descent introduction to a very good play, Life Of Riley is a small film that belongs on the TV screen and not at the movie theatre.