With a screenplay by Alain Robbe-Grillet, this haunting, seminal work of the French New Wave is a dreamlike mosaic taking place at an unusual luxury hotel where a man tries to remind a married woman of the affair they may or may not have had a year prior.
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Robbe-Grillet gave the game away, without ruining the film at all, when he said it's all about persuasion. Indeed, it traces a man's obsessive, passionate urge to *will* a reality into existence for him and his desired. What keeps it going, aside from the sensory hypnosis, is the living uncertainty the actors bring to the love triangle—whether Delphine escapes from the cold labyrinth, or swaps one master for another.
re-watch after years, 16mm. So much colder than I remembered; to steep in such brisk memories of an affair, skewed by smoke and mirrors and subject Borges (via a most acerbic lens), and left feeling nothing; an exercise in monotony, an observation of the bourgeois exercising (filmmaker included), equating to tedious absence of anything human. And lest not forget Adolfo Bioy Casares.
Strike a pose. Or rather the art of nothing. Best seen as a series of stylishly austere vignettes and don't dig too deeply otherwise the varnish cracks. The great moments of stagey visual formalism do not make a convincing whole, which at ninety minutes becomes a beautiful fingernail scrapped down the proverbial blackboard (Or does it? Was it ever there? The finger, the board; then, now or next year?)
the remarkable editing. the crowds and that game. the ambiguous relationship between the man and the woman. the location especially the garden, these are some unforgetable things in this film with brilliant direction, and oh yes that creepy experience when the woman with swan-like clothes trying to hug you more than once in the last 20 minutes.
Exquisite compositions and formal symmetry replete the film with a great sense of wonder, intrigue, and a sense of life within life, repetition with variation, the magnificence of emptiness or the emptiness of magnificence.
The black-and-white format parallels the plot's grey areas, and the fantastic editing creates a dream-like narrative. I'm one to believe we are viewing snippets of the man's memory, and the editing depicts his refusal to acknowledge the truth. Last Year at Marienbad is a French New Wave classic.
The dialogue, I mean hell, the whole narrative wore me out completely after the first hour, the film is so obsessive in its enclosed, adroitly delimited construction it's practically a vicious circle under the guise of a perfectly photographed romance/ghost(??) movie, and I'm 99% sure it will cause quite an impact on you.
Can't say I loved it, but goddamn it was really unlike anything I'd ever seen before. Very surreal and beautifully shot, despite perhaps one or two moments it also kept me interested the entire time. 4/5