Resnais’ debut feature Hiroshima Mon Amour and his follow-up film Last Year at Marienbad remain as not just his most renowned works, but also seminal products of the French Nouvelle Vague. A head-scratcher if there ever was one, this was a formally challenging, delectably enigmatic and strangely engaging film exploring his pet themes of time and memory. Set in a palatial and opulent hotel where a huge crowd has gathered for some unexplained reason. There we find a suave unnamed man (Giorgio Albertazzi) trying to convince an alluring nameless lady (Delphine Seyrig), that they had had a brief romantic tryst in this hotel a year back, even though she has absolutely no memory of him (or is it that she is feigning ignorance, or perhaps even that he’s simply cooking up a fake story?). The narrative regularly jumped from the present to a past that could either be true or simply a figment of the man’s imaginations or a projection of what he’s trying to convince her of or an alternate reality. There are simply too many permutations possible, any of which could be true. Meanwhile, a mysterious and stoic man, who maybe her husband, goes around involving his fellow guests in a simple but interesting game that, in fact, became very popular upon the film’s release. Written by nouveau roman author Alain Robbe-Grillet and beautifully shot in luminous B/W, this dream-like, self-reflexive film, where the director’s intent could have been anything from meditations on ‘truth’ in cinema, to playing truant with his audience, continues to remain as captivating and as confounding as the elegant, maze-like hotel it was set in.
Director: Alain Resnais
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Surreal Drama/Romance/Experimental Film/Avant-Garde