Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB
France/West Germany, 1975. Nouvelles Editions de Films, Bioskop Film. Screenplay by Louis Malle, additional dialogue by Joyce Bunuel. Cinematography by Sven Nykvist. Produced by Claude Nedjar. Production Design by Ghislain Uhry. Film Editing by Suzanne Baron.
A young woman (Cathryn Harrison, granddaughter to Rex) escapes a post-apocalyptic battleground in her car and finds herself in an abandoned mansion in the middle of nowhere, inhabited by an old woman and her grandchildren (one of them played by Warhol superstar Joe Dallesandro).
Grateful for the calm in the middle of chaos, she tries to make herself welcome but strange events in this Alice In Wonderland for the post-post-modern age prevent her from getting too comfortable: the sudden appearance of a host of naked children, the old woman’s constant need to be breastfed, and a unicorn who doles out sage but complicated advice.
Louis Malle’s break from the comparatively safe success of Lacombe Lucien and Murmur Of The Heart is commendable for its fierce commitment to remaining on the outside of expectation, though its highly experimental nature is more esoteric than charismatic, and some audiences will find it difficult to stay engaged.
That said, the imagery by Sven Nykvist is stunning and you can safely say you have rarely seen anything like it.
The Criterion Collection: #571