Walter is told by his boss, Sara, to deliver an urgent letter to Henri de Corinthe. On the way he finds a beautiful woman he had been eying in a nightclub, lying in the road, bound up. He ... See full summary »
Walter is told by his boss, Sara, to deliver an urgent letter to Henri de Corinthe. On the way he finds a beautiful woman he had been eying in a nightclub, lying in the road, bound up. He takes her to a villa to get a doctor, and ends up being locked in a bedroom with her. While she is making love to him, he has visions of surrealistic images from René Magritte's paintings. In the morning, the girl, Marie-Ange, has vanished, the villa looks derelict, and his neck is bleeding. Was it all just a nightmare? Written by
Alain Robbe-Grillet, in his post-MARIENBAD career, has made a decent living for himself combining his structuralist maze-narratives with skin, guns, black leather, trapezes and motorcycles. In short he has managed to wedge one of the artiest of art-movie genres into the Erotic Thriller shelf of your local video
store. (But don't expect to see any Robbe-Grillets there soon.) Before a dismal tail-off (it was all a dream! or was it? no, it was! or was it?) Robbe-Grillet manages to solder together a pleasing array of rhymes, repetitions, hangovers, frames-within-frames, and other toylike devices which he wisely powers with High Surrealist fuel: dreamlike sexual obsessiveness. The first twenty minutes or so of LA BELLE CAPTIVE combine story elements from EYES WIDE SHUT and KISS ME DEADLY--a winning combination (and one that suggests more that Robbe-Grillet read Schnitzler's "Traumnovelle" than that Kubrick jacked Robbe-Grillet's conception). As always in Robbe-Grillet, the combination of elegant, "meaningless," self-referential puzzling with lurid, charged material makes for a powerful experience--Andre Breton 2.0. Too bad that, unlike his late, masterly THE BLUE VILLA (still shamefully undistributed), LA BELLE CAPTIVE cops out so shamefully.
One must now acknowledge, after LA BELLE CAPTIVE, Antonioni's IDENTIFICATION OF A WOMAN, EYES WIDE SHUT and MULHOLLAND DRIVE, that the Cheesy Erotic Thriller is now the dominant paradigm of the Western art film.
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