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  Successive Slidings of Pleasure Victims And Villains
Year: 1974
Director: Alain Robbe-Grillet
Stars: Anicée Alvina, Olga Georges-Picot, Michael Lonsdale, Jean Martin, Marianne Eggerickx, Claude Marcault, Maxence Mailfort, Nathalie Zeiger, Bob Wade, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Isabelle Huppert, Hubert Niogret, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Catherine Robbe-Grillet
Genre: WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: A police car, light flashing and siren blaring, rushes towards this Paris apartment as if the detective (Jean-Louis Trintignant) has a sixth sense which summons him to freshly-committed crimes. Or maybe someone phoned the police, whatever, in that apartment a woman has been tied to a bed by her wrist and stabbed through the chest with a large pair of scissors: surely this is an open and shut case and the woman, Nora (Olga Georges-Picot) was attacked by her flatmate (Anicée Alvina)? She did like to tie her friend up and strip her naked, then paint on her body, so could she have simply gone too far this time and taken her games to an extreme?

Glissements progressifs du plaisir as it was known in French, or Successive Slidings of Pleasure if you preferred a loose English translation, was one of director Alain Robbe-Grillet's movies most indebted to his literary style that had made his name as a creative and artistic innovator, though by the time this was released he was just as well known for his film work. Not superstar level, but he did have his fans who felt stimulated by his refusal to play by the rules of storytelling and thereby fashion something he hoped was an entirely new way of appreciating cinema, unfettered by such boring old constraints as having to stick to plot, consistent characters, leaving out any kind of non sequitur and so forth.

Indeed, stuff like that was this work's bread and butter: good luck even trying to make sense of what the narrative is in terms that might be understood by most other efforts, leaving this one of those darned experimental films, sometimes called art films though that word doesn't take into account that a film with a perceived storyline can still be regarded as a work of art, and Robbe-Grillet was at his most disdainful of that here. It might seem like a murder has been committed therefore we will follow the detective through his investigation as in countless murder mysteries and police procedurals before and since, but this wasn't playing that game, it wasn't going to adhere to any kind of methods that even glanced the way of the sort of fuel ordinary entertainments might employ.

So it may seem as though the unnamed flatmate has offed Nora with the scissors in the bedroom, yet this is no game of Cluedo and the only winner really was the director; you get the impression if he had well and truly baffled the audience he would regard it as a personal victory. He dragged in the subjects of the law and religion, seemingly because such elements are germane to the discussion of a murder case with its affront to morality, whereupon they are consistently sent up in deadpan fashion, leaving, among other questions, whether this was supposed to be funny: was the director exercising his comedy stylings in this case? If so, he wasn't exactly hilarious because there was a sense of this being too studied to be spontaneously laughter-inducing, as if he had spent so much time absorbing how to make an anti-film that this was all done with a frown of concentration.

Alvina, an actress who French audiences might know as the lead singer of rock band Ici Paris and who, like her co-star Olga, died rather prematurely in middle age, spent much of her screen time without her clothes, as if this was demanded by anyone making a sincere European art movie by this point, and to prove it nudity was not merely the cheapest special effect around, it conveyed a degree more attention to be paid, with any luck with some high-falutin' musings going through your mind as you did, as after all, wasn't the nude an essential part of non-filmic artworks? But even then, Robbe-Grillet fools about with this by introducing decidedly non-erotic aspects like eggs, paint and wine making a mess of the female form, and that form represented by a mannequin which Nora is seen cutting into, then his regular obsession of bondage games which were only going to appeal to a certain demographic, and even some sub-Jess Franco (if you can imagine) naughty nuns lesbianism. The result is a mishmash for those who do not mind being played around with. Music by Michel Fano.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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