A cult erotic drama from the perverse imagination of Alain Robbe-Grillet, SUCCESSIVE SLIDINGS OF PLEASURE delves into the twisted mind of a young woman suspected in the stabbing death of her roommate Nora.
A young woman is questioned by the police and the judges, suspected of being a modern witch. The girl who shared her apartment has been found dead, and a pair of scissors impaled through her heart, as she lay attached to the bedposts. Apparently, the girl does have powers, to make all people around her fall prey to her spell, sliding progressively into desire, lust, and the unknown.Written by
A young woman is interviewed by police, judges and clergy who may not all be real over possibly murdering her flatmate. She makes art on naked bodies and mannequins and is probably a prostitute but also might be a witch. That's almost all the plot there is, all you'll get from me at any rate but suffice to say, those looking for conventional narrative and clear cut explanations will not have a good time here. This here is more of a delving into the mysteries of mind and memory, an exploration of fractured mind framed in the trappings of Euro-sploitation, its time-line treading forwards, backwards and even sideways from its central bloody death, the effect being that past, present and future become as one, the film itself becomes an image of mind trapped in misgiving and illusion. Its tricksy stuff and can be daunting but the key is in the source, writer/director Alain Robbe-Grillet is generally best known for writing Last Year In Marienbad and while Successive Slidings of Pleasure may be less profound than that marvel of philosophical mystery it shares in its concerns and structure of film as headstate rather than means of surveying from outside. It is also marginally more penetrable than the earlier film, with its various flashbacks and repeated images acting as useful clues to orient the audience in the journey. Not that its symbolism or connections are all that easy to piece together, but they serve as a whole to create a relatively cohesive if slippery mind image at the close of play, a print on the brain that doesn't necessarily require many viewings to interpret and report upon. The major difference from Last Year In Marienbad though is the sleaze. Sure, there aren't any Franco style cooch zooms, but the leading lady (stunning Anicee Alvina) is always seductive and often nude, even painting her body to print red upon the floor or smear herself across white walls. She paints the body of her flatmate (Olga Georges-Picot, also stunning) too and together they get up to some winningly strange behaviour including a breathtaking scene involving eggs and a truly bizarre bit of doll mutilation. The bloodier bits are eyebrow raising as well, sensual but never gratuitous. At times things get a little too pretentious, with one scene towards the end a real groaner (coming across as the work of an imbecile parody of the avant garde) and the film as a whole a tad overlong, but mostly this is really splendid stuff. Speech delivered straight to camera, formal body language, terrific sound design with mismatched soundtrack sometimes illustrating thought and other times just letting scenes bleed into each other, its a great trip for sense and mind. Probably something of a niche audience film, but if you fall into that spot on the Venn diagram where philosophers and kooky sleaze-hounds converge, this is a must see. 8/10.
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