(director/writer: Alain Robbe-Grillet; cinematographer: Yves Lafaye; editor: Bob Wade; music: Michel Fano; cast: Jean Martin (Priest), Michel Lonsdale (Judge), Jean-Louis Trintignant (The police Lieutenant), Anicée Alvina (The Prisoner), Olga Georges-Picot (Nora/lawyer), Nathalie Zeiger (Sister Maria), Bob Wade (Fossoyeur/Gravedigger), Claude Marcault (Sister Julia), Marianne Eggerickx (Claudia), Maxence Mailfort (Client), Isabelle Hupert (Bit part), Alain Robbe-Grillet (A passerby); Runtime: 106; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Andre Cohen/Marcel Sébaoun; Kino Classics; 1974-France-in French with English subtitles)

“Going weird and artsy cute is not enough to hold my interest if there’s little else to recommend it.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An Alain Robbe-Grillet (“The Man Who Lies”/”Eden and After”/”La Belle Captive”) image-laden erotic thriller that makes about as much sense as a monastery cell used as a prison cell. The playful French writer-director amuses himself with keeping it as a mind game comedy, where reality is in the eyes of the deranged murderess.

A mentally disturbed prostitute (Anicée Alvina) is arrested by a trenchcoat wearing policeman (Jean-Louis Trintignant) for fatally stabbing in the chest with a scissors her prostitute roommate Nora (Olga Georges-Picot), who was found smeared with red paint and had one armed tied by rope to the bedpost. Though a broken wine bottle is found at the crime scene the suspect, who has removed her clothes during the interrogation, says that wasn’t the murder weapon. She further relates that she was game-playing with Nora and was the one who tied her to the bed so she could model for her painting. The nameless suspect, called the Prisoner, claims a voyeur somehow got the keys to the apartment and committed the murder. As a result she’s imprisoned in a monastery cell, that looks exactly like her white apartment, where she’s served by a lawyer (also Olga Georges-Picot) who looks exactly like Nora and interviewed by a horny judge (Michel Lonsdale), a hostile priest (Jean Martin) and a repressed young nun (Nathalie Zeiger), all of whom she enjoys manipulating as she plays head games with them and seduces them to submit to her sexual whims. We’re left to decide for ourselves if she’s mistreated by her captors or is it merely all a figment of her imagination.

The perverse cult film, with a risible surprise ending, is a mind trip into the head of a twisted young lady, and its sleaze, S&M scenes, and weird images supposedly point to deeper meanings. But for me, going weird and artsy cute is not enough to hold my interest if there’s little else to recommend it.