Resnais' scalpel never makes a precise incision, it wounds and dismembers an increasingly complex dialectic, the film gradually turning on itself, a representation of desperate and futile science. We will never get the full picture and a peek through the lens of the microscope (camera) will only reveal new worlds, equally deviant of illumination and survey.
Maybe i'm mistaken, but I think Resnais might actually be making fun of these psychological theories rather than endorsing them. Why else would he use an image as hilarious as grown ass men with giant rat head to visualize the words that are the basis of this whole story. I hope that's the case, because I would like to believe that I'm not the only one who was indifferent to all this mumbo jumbo.
An incredible script by Jean Gruault and Henri Laborit takes us on a sociological journey examining behaviorist theories in this mid period Alain Resnais film. Three characters are examined getting to the heart of human nature through motivation, anxiety, relationships and the notion of self. Performances are strong with kudos to Nicole Garcia. Aren't we all conditioned rats in the end? '...in the end anguish..'
Resnais has shown the way for David Lynch in elaborating a cinema surrealistic interrogation of the bourgeois. His method is gentler and more fluid, effortlessly braiding the stories of three people desperate for happiness and self-respect but finding themselves trapped like rats in a system, and in selves, they don't understand, never losing sight of his characters' basic humanity. Intelligent, comic, beautiful.