[Last Film I Saw] Providence (1977)

Title: Providence
Year: 1977
Language: English
Country: France, Switzerland
Genre: Drama
Director: Alain Resnais
Writer:
David Mercer
Cast:
Dirk Bogarde
Ellen Burstyn
John Gielgud
David Warner
Elaine Stritch
Cyril Luckham
Denis Lawson
Kathryn Leigh Scott
Tanya Lopert
Rating: 7.1/10

At the age of 90, Alain Resnais’ new film YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHIN’ YET (Vous n’avez encore rein vu 2012) has continued to stun the Cannes this year, although ended up empty-handed, which reminds me a cruel matter-of-fact that Alain has eluded my watch list completely, so as a starter, PROVIDENCE, his 1977 experimentally maturer work may suit the case, plus it’s in English.

So conspicuously, Resnais’ opus is quite difficult to chew, the film charts an aging writer’s one sleepless tormenting night with his imagination world of a plot mingles with his closest relatives, profoundly literary and surrealistic.

The interrelation among its characters are not being unveiled until the last episode of a real world luncheon for the writer’s 78 birthday, when his two sons and one daughter-in-law arrive, there is a pure revelation in this paragraph, no matter how irreverent or symbolistic its previous segments are, Resnais did manifest that the deepest humanity underneath a well-protected hypocrisy, an individualist rumination.

The film might be uneasy to watch since the performances are flaky (David Warner is rather awful and hollow in it), the structures with their implausible consequences are never quite straightforward enough to be participated enthusiastically. Dirk Bogarde and Ellen Burstyn are less-exploited reckoning on their knack, so only Sir John Gielgud’s soliloquy of a pain-molested night is a substantial career-defining work, but the sway is too marginal to lift the whole film.

For me, watching the very first work of a maestro is always a tentative challenge, as it hardly gives any trace of characterization or personal antics there to dig, but I smell somewhat of a bourgeoisie blasting and sarcasm which I don’t quite comprehend yet whether could be pigeonholed among one of Resnais’ trademarks or not, but the film’s heady otherworldliness surely invites me into a distinguished world of Alain Resnais, hope PROVIDENCE is not the best he is able to bestow.

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