At first glance, the title of Alain Resnais’s latest feature, You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet, seems like a self-effacing joke. Resnais is 90 years old and could retire—indeed it had been speculated last year that the film, which screens again tonight at the Siskel Center’s European Union Film Festival, would be his last. But a quick search on IMDB reveals that Resnais is already working on another movie (his fourth adaptation of an Alan Ayckbourn play, currently titled Aimer, boire et chanter), so there goes that hypothesis.
Likewise it would be wholly out of character if Resnais were being immodest and heralding the rejuvenation of his career. This filmmaker has consistently gone out of his way to obscure his creative intentions—as Jonathan Rosenbaum liked to note in his essays about Resnais, the director has never taken a screenwriting credit despite working extensively on the scripts for all his films. (In his last two films, Wild Grass and You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet, he’s accepted writing credit under a pseudonym, Alex Reval.) Like the novels of his onetime collaborator Alain Robbe-Grillet, Resnais’s films feel like elaborate constructions in which the author can hide. As for the film marking a new phase for Resnais, that doesn’t seem quite right either; the movie continues in the stylistic vein of several previous films, most obviously Melo and Not on the Lips.