Last Year at Marienbad (1961)
Had they met before? Are they pawns in some larger game of chance? Do they even exist? The story, written by nouveau romancier Alain Robbe-Grillet, takes on the uncanniness of the labyrinthine passageways of the mind. It portrays an ineffable love triangle involving ineffable characters – X, A and M. The style of the film is reminiscent of a Cubist painting. The formalism of outward appearances (including costumes by Coco Chanel!) belies the underlying anxiety of indeterminacy.
The driving force of the film consisted in the powerful collaboration between Robbe-Grillet’s screenwriting, Alain Resnais’ directing and Sacha Vierny’s cinematography. The resulting oeuvre was a compelling testament to the seductive and unstable relationships among perception, memory, the imagination, fantasy, reality, and time. The film took the Golden Lion at the 1961 Venice Film Festival.
Although it has been most tempting for critics to classify the film as part of the work of French New Wave, Resnais is more aptly seen as a central figure in the ‘Left Bank Group,’ which included Chris Marker, Agnès Varda, William Klein, and tangentially, Marguerite Duras and Georges Franju. The Left Bank was the area in Paris where these artists resided and/or frequented. According to curator and critic Richard Rourd, they attested to “a fondness for a kind of Bohemian life and an impatience with the conformity of the Right Bank, a high degree of involvement in literature and the plastic arts, and a consequent interest in experimental filmmaking,”
Although the assertions have never been officially maintained, many have also argued the film to be a loose adaptation of The Invention of Morel, a novella written by Adolfo Bioy Casares, a colleague of Jorge Luis Borges,
- Story A
- Acting B+
- Visuals A+
- Originality/Innovation A+
- Enjoyability A
- Overall A
- DVD Extras C