I dig it when French movies are silly. Godard definitely should have done more silly films. I met Robbe-Grillet. Jealous? You should be. Only problem with him is that he kept speaking French even after I shouted, "I can't understand you!" Of course he lost his mind right around 'Eden and Apres' and started doing nudies. Sacré Bleu, mes amis! Pas possible! Oui! Non! Oui! Pain perdue!
Three poor writers try to put together a spy movie on the titular train and we watch the results. Characters and crime tropes come and go and fold back over themselves. It moves along w/o any real sense of real cause and effect. The clichés and scenes are lodged in our collective memory from decades of thrillers. Music peppers it randomly. A real New Wave precursor to Jarmusch's The Limits of Control!! Great . . .
Perhaps the only Robbe-Grillet film that could be called a "romp". This goofiest entry in the New Wave takes place in a realm where artists and their creations share the same reality, exploring the link between our world (where story ideas are born in bullshit spit-balling sessions) and the world of genre fantasy. A bit too self-satisfied at times, but also brain-tickling & a wicked satire of James Bond's 60s.
The cinematography is fabulous, and the actors so great, that it doesn't even matter that the plot and dialogue are deliberately insipid. This is a perfect example of when I wish I could turn off the subtitles on MUBI. They are a distraction. The bondage scenes and sexy lingerie are a fun bonus. 4.5 stars.
Proof that Robbe-Grillet could be Oulipo-hilarious as well as Nouveau Roman po-faced. On the evidence of this film he was no threat to Queneau in terms of richness and complexity of yucks, but T.E.E. is no less fun for that. Even after decades of self-referential cinema -- both experimental and less so, successful and much less so -- this madcap crime-caper delivers an effective metanarrative high, avec venom.