I saw this movie this summer, at a French movies festival centered on the French New Wave. Circumstances allowed me to compare this with another of Robbe-Grillet's films, Trans-Europ Express. While the latter was fairly interesting (as a story set up on-the-spot, with its author, his wife and a friend negotiating what should happen now when Trintignant and the others are already acting), this was pretty much a disaster. A lot of things which worked well in the other ARG movie are hit-and-miss here. There, the fictitious story allowed for a flat, easy read - it's all a trick, there's nothing worth considering. The story of Boris Varissa/Jean Robin, on the other hand, seems to urge the viewer to set up a huge critical apparatus - only to give him back nothing more than a set of more or less unrelated cuts. On a very theoretical plane, The Man Who Lies could be viewed as a very critical essay on the French collaboration during the war and/or on the falsifying effect produced by a memory that wishes to become something else. Varissa could be one of the bad, a traitor, and the movie a sort of dream-like vision of his - maybe a plain nightmare. However, if we dismiss this interpretation - there isn't too much left. As a study in narratology it's too long and boring. As a piece of surrealism, it's unconvincing and irrelevant. I guess what makes this movie less significant than Trans-Europ Express is the fact that while there being artsy-fartsy was actually part of the game, here it's irritating. One note, however: although I find The Man Who Lies to be a trifle less convincing than Trans-Europ Express, it *was* that much more inspiring. Still, Robbe-Grillet's movie-making is boredom-inducing.
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