L'année dernière à Marienbad (Last Year at Marienbad) Reviews
The story is somewhat straight forward, a man and a woman meet a year after their initial meeting, however the woman has forgotten the event thus leaving the man to convince her it happened. Okay, so it seems pretty simple at the moment, but then it piles on layers of enigmatic scenes and mind-bending narration that create a narrative that is damn hard to interpret. The black-and-white cinematography is stunning, but this film is definitely going to require a second viewing before I establish it as a film that I truly like (or hate). The Marmite of the arthouse film world.
Dreamlike and ridiculously ahead of its time - I love this film a lot. Every time I watch it I see new things in it - and I've changed my mind dozens of times about what it all means.
Perhaps the first true mind fuck movie of cinematic history, Last Year at Marienbad is extremely difficult to watch and to stay attentive mostly because the film shifts more frequently in timeline than any other film ever made in the history of cinema. The film is filled with unnecessary voice overs, an extremely well made cinematography work and a clearly rotten performance from lead actress Delphine Seyrig(which reduces the fun in watching the film). The rest of the cast is ok and it's extremely well directed for it's time. A major drawback is that it's plot cannot be comprehended into a sensible version. It's filled of too many beautiful women. It's the most enigmatic and confusing film I have seen to date.
I read it as being about the ways in which we assign meaning to art, a self-aware parody of the pretentious art film while actually being a pretentious art film. This kind of thing is really just dependent on whether or not you buy into the idea of viewing film as a medium and dissecting how and why it affects us. If watching a movie intent on creating a nightmarish dream world where nothing makes sense for an hour and a half sounds like fun to you, than here you go. Enjoy. If that sounds like pretentious nonsense, then skip it. As a surreal, beautiful mental puzzle that does a lovely job of generating a mood, a tone, emulating the nature of dreams, and capturing the frustrating ways in which we attempt to recall memories, it's quite an experience.
MARIENBAD is a beast of its own nature. It is a quintessential love-it-or-hate-it piece. The concept of repetition and time is explored quite ravishedly. The story weaves in and out, goes up and down, and glides through without establishing true concrete hints for viewers to grasp. It is this that may alienate the most casual viewer. Although the narrative can get messy, the cinematography and editing are both exquisite and unyielding - the frame constantly evokes a nostalgic and steady yet almost amnesic atmosphere with its elegant slow tracking, its isolation of characters and space through light and shadow (and aided by luscious costume design), and its chaotic control of rhythm through jump cuts, match cuts, and bold flashes. The film exudes a sort of technical brilliance that in a sense can be seen by some to be its redeeming quality.
MARIENBAD, to all its credit, is probably one of the most mysterious films ever made. For that, it is worth a watch alone. Like or dislike, Resnais goes for something, and it is up to each individual's subjective experience to decide whether or not he succeeds.