Malle has attempted to create this Carroll-esque type modern wonderland, but it really lacks any real meaning or direction. The film is just a chain of arbitrary events with a painfully bad actor as the protagonist. Despite her awful acting the character herself isn't particularly a likable character. I really wanted to enjoy the film but its only redeeming quality is the talking unicorn.
My least favourite kind of film. Throw a whole bunch of bizarre, unrelated images and situations together and let the audience figure out the meaning - i.e. the Lynch method. Not a bad way of working, necessarily, but certainly not for me. I love Malle and he's made some of the best films I've seen - particularly Pretty Baby (1978). Some parts of this I found vaguely interesting but it was mostly just tedious.
Hard to believe this work when unrecognized for so long and that it's initial reaction was that the film didn't entirely work and maybe in the 70's I could understand but today the surrealism and childlike playfulness feels way more fluid than the headiness you get with a David Lynch knockoff. Malle's use of animal imagery is particularly skillful. "Dreamlike" is thrown around a lot but this film nails it down.
Cathryn Harrison is on point as the ephebophiliac pin-up protagonist caught between "Little Joe" and a unicorn in this Louis Malle allegory/sexual awakening concoction. Here, the line between fantastic and ludicrous becomes blurred at times, but the sensual tension (which is the film's common language), is consistent thanks in part to Sven Nykvist's color lighting as well as Cathryn Harrison's energetic performance.
I only watched this film because of that scene in Waking Life when Soderbergh tells the story of how Louis Malle and Billy Wilder met in the 70s. Well, lesson learned: never again watch a film of dream within a dream referenced in another film about a dream.