An exercise in duplicitous narration taken to its logical extreme. Nothing the protagonist says about himself or the past can be believed, including his identity: he introduces himself as "Jean Robin", then tells us that he is really "Boris Viasso", and relates the tale of his wartime comrade in the resistance, Jean Robin, who is first portrayed as a hero, then implied to be a traitor. Or was it Viasso himself who was the traitor? Or, since he seems unrecognized in the village, is he merely trying to insinuate himself into the household of three beautiful women: the widow, sister and maid of the late Robin? Robbe-Grillet plays his customary brilliant games with narrative and imagery. There are women in blindfolds, women bound with ropes; a broken glass; death by broken balustrade. All the characters wear contemporary clothing, even in "flashback" to the wartime past, when they interact with soldiers in WWII garb. Beautiful Czech locales - forests, a crumbling castle, a labyrinthine cavern - are filmed in sumptuous black-and-white by Igor Luthor. A memorable sequence of betrayal, with freeze-frames, featuring A R-G's wife, Catherine.
A provocative treat from this great and under-rated master of cinema.
Seen at BAM on July 14, 2008.
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