On the coast of the Mediterranean, there lies this hamlet that used to be the haunt of the very rich, but has since been abandoned thanks to how difficult to reach and out of the way it is, and all that is left to inhabit it are a colony of ants, some lizards - and an artist (Elina Löwensohn) who makes expressionistic paintings she decorates by firing bullets into the canvas. What she doesn't know, and neither does the author she shares the ruins with, is that she is about to have some visitors, for further down the rocky hill a heist is staged and 250 kilos of gold are stolen. Not only that, but the criminals are headed their way, and even they are not completely alone in that excursion...
Quite why the robber thought the ruins up on top of the cliffs were a good location to head for when you would have thought it would be better to get away from the location as quickly as possible is one of the many aspects that went unexplained in this oblique thriller, one of those twenty-first century allusive efforts where the point was as much to pay tribute to what had gone before as it was to make something new. Everything from such diverse poles as Down with Love to Mandy had adopted this approach, with a variety of results depending on what sort of effect they were aiming for, but the directors here had already demonstrated their love of Italian trash cinema.
That said, Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani, for it was they, were adapting a French thriller paperback from the cusp of the nineteen-sixties into the seventies, a point in time that was pivotal in the history of popular film for many reasons, though the reasons they employed here were that more sex and violence were permissible. Not that this was a trash flick, as with their previous works they were taking the least respectable fictions of the past and elevating them to art with a heightened style at times verging on the psychedelic, and at others plunging straight into the all encompassing and mindbending. The effects were either intoxicating or irritating, with no in between.
For a start, you had to toil with quite some dedication for the plot to make much, or any, sense, a morass of sun-drenched visuals and double-crossing shenanigans among the visitors to Luce's hideaway. Löwensohn was the most famous performer here, looking particularly hardfaced and unapproachable, though that did not prevent her from taking her clothes off as if she were a starlet thirty years younger, and there was also nudity from the younger members of the cast, most notably a denizen of a flashback who is painted gold, gets crucified and milked, and urinates on one of the other characters. If this weirdness was to excuse the nudity as aesthetically pleasing, it was an odd way to go about it, though if eroticism was the point then the head-scratching nature of what was unfolding moved against that effect.
What was about as clear as you could understand it was that the criminals pick up the author's wife, son and maid hitchhiking on the way up the hill (if standing in the middle of the road to make cars stop for you counts as hitchhiking), and when they arrive they find two motorcycle cops have worked out where they are hiding and have followed them, sparking shootout that on and off lasts the rest of the film. Further than that, you were on your own, with barely an acknowledgement of what else we were watching as to its reality or fantasy: it's little wonder a large number of those who tried the movies of these directors threw up their hands in resignation when trying to divine a conventional storyline from them, though to their credit they did seem to be aware of what they were dealing with, it was simply the manner they went about it that could very easily baffle. After a while, you were soaking up the imagery and forgetting about who was doing what to whom; as ever with these talents, they were appealing to an intersection of art fans and trash fans, a very small intersection. Ennio Morricone clips provided the music.