Robbe-Grillet was, like Marguerite Duras, one of the leading theoreticians and practitioners of the French “New Novel” that proved to be a wellspring of inspiration for several Left Bank filmmakers. Also like Duras, he collaborated with Alain Resnais—Robbe-Grillet wrote the screenplay for Resnais’s 1961 Last Year at Marienbad—and eventually turned to making films himself. The author himself appears throughout this, his best-known directorial effort, as a passenger cooking up a film scenario, the scenario for the film that we concurrently watch being enacted, starring Jean-Louis Trintignant as a drug mule with a taste for S&M on a mission to Antwerp, shot in dreary splendor by Willy Kurant. A pulp pastiche laid out with cool, mathematical symmetry, featuring Trintignant at his most theatrical.

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