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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Life of Riley aka "Aimer, boire et chanter" [Blu-ray]


(Alain Resnais, 2014)


Also available from Kino Lorber in the US:



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: F Comme Film

Video: Eureka - Masters of Cinema - Spine #115



Region: 'B'-locked (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:47:55.166

Disc Size: 44,231,038,249 bytes

Feature Size: 35,219,267,520 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.61 Mbps

Chapters: 10

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: May 25th, 2015



Aspect ratio: 2.4:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio French 3397 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3397 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
LPCM Audio French 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit



English, none



• New and exclusive video interview about the film with critic and scholar Geoffrey O'Brien (15:32)
Original theatrical trailer (1:44)
Interviews with the cast (16:24 in French with English subtitles)
36-PAGE BOOKLET featuring a new essay by critic Cristina Álvarez López; a new note on his collaborations with Alain Resnais by playwright Alan Ayckbourn; and production imagery





Description: Alain Resnais's (Last Year at Marienbad, Hiroshima mon amour) final film before his death in March 2014 is a moving, graceful, and surprisingly affirmative farewell to life from a truly great artist.

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...

After Smoking/No Smoking [1993] and Private Fears in Public Places [2006], this is the late Alain Resnais's third adaptation of a work by British playwright Alan Ayckbourn and the great masters last film. By confining the action to an artificial, almost entirely studio-bound world, he succeeds in creating a tragicomic theatre of vanities. Employing the ironic distance of a sage observer of human nature, Resnais ponders the power of love and desire and in doing so enables his characters, driven by their longings, hopes and obsessions, to leave the beaten track for once. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to release Alain Resnais's (unintentional) swan song is a Dual Format special edition



The Film:

In photographs taken close to the time Alain Resnais was to present his “Life of Riley” (its French title is “Aimer, boire, et chante,” that is, “Love, Drink, and Sing,” but the English title matches that of its source, a work by British playwright Alan Ayckbourn) at the 2014 Berlin International Film Festival last February, the venerated director hardly looked like a man who’d made his final movie. But Resnais went on to his final reward in June, which casts a retrospective shadow on the movie and places it in a context we can’t be sure he intended. For “Life of Riley” is about a man who is dying, a man who’s never seen on screen. Set, as Ayckburn’s play is, in the countryside of England, and enacted by characters who read British newspapers and drive in cars with right-hand-side steering wheels nevertheless speaking in French, “Life of Riley” features six characters not in search of an auteur but preoccupied with the impending death of an old pal, the title character.

Excerpt from Glenn Kenny at located HERE

In the tradition of many of Alain Resnais's films, Life of Riley follows characters who attempt to explicate their lives through art, only to find the art in question to be a slippery portal into introspective chaos. It's essentially a comedy, as the existential terror that informed politically and morally unnerving films like Last Year at Marienbad and Muriel gradually evolved, over the years, into a kind of authorial wryness that affectionately reveled in characters' simultaneous (and largely implicative) gestures of defeat and forgiveness. The surprisingly deep comic generosity of the great director's late films springs from a notion of looking oneself in the metaphoric mirror and, finally, being old and settled enough to see that face for what it was and is: the form of an everyday person beholden to the petty trivialities that grip almost all of us who're lucky enough to live in some incarnation of the first world.

Excerpt from Slant Magazine located HERE


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Life of Riley looks gorgeous on Blu-ray from The Masters of Cinema in the UK. Shot with the Arri Alexa the image quality showcases a tight, defined presence and colors are bright - bordering on vibrant. I don't own the Region 'A' Kino Lorber version but suspect it may be less robust but exporting similar impressive visuals. The transfer is dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate producing an image that has frequent depth and no untoward gloss. The 1080P at around 2.4:1 looks exquisite with a few touches of animation adding to the film's pleasurable flavor. This Blu-ray has done its job and then some and the HD video gets very high marks.

















Audio :

Masters of Cinema transfer the audio via a robust DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at 3397 kbps in the original French-language and it easily handles the film's sound requirements. There are a few effects and the score by Mark Snow, export some crispness and depth, when needed. Like the video the audio is perfect sounding appropriately gentle or rich as requested. Nothing but praise. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.



Extras :

Masters of Cinema supplement their Blu-ray package with a new and exclusive 1/4 hour video interview about the film with critic and scholar Geoffrey O'Brien providing educational and interesting information. We also get 15-minutes of interviews with the cast from TV in French with English subtitles, and a trailer. They include one of their notable liner notes booklets featuring a new essay by critic Cristina Álvarez López; a new note on his collaborations with Alain Resnais by playwright Alan Ayckbourn; and production imagery.



Life of Riley is such a unique and ingratiating film experience. With Resnais now passed on (March of 2015) I viewed the film with a certain disconcerting feeling knowing it was his last film. I think that the Ayckbourn play was a good choice to redo and I enjoyed this adaptation, the set design and playful visual touches.  A perfect a/v transfer by MoC to Blu-ray it is a kind of tribute to the great director - who will be missed - but leaves behind an impressive body of work. Certainly this BD is recommended!  

Gary Tooze

May 11th, 2015


Also available from Kino Lorber in the US:



About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
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Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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