A young female artist is being questioned by the police, judges and nuns about the murder of her roommate who was found stabbed to death by scissors in her bed.
I finally decided to watch this film by Alain Robbe-Grillet after having finished my "Top 99 Arthouse Films" list and it was probably a bad idea since I'm sure it would've made the list. But since that list isn't something I will update I decided to give the film some respect in this review. I've known of Robbe-Grillet for the longest time simply because he's a common name in the arthouse circles, but it took me until now to actually sit down and watch one of his film. There are just way too many films out there and not nearly enough time to spend on watching them, but I am happy that I finally did watch this.
On the very, very shallow surface this is a murder mystery drama about a young woman being questioned by people of authority in regards to her murdered roommate. That's the shell, at least. The movie manages to tell this simple, almost non-progressive story with other means than just narration. First of all it's important to mention that the story itself jumps back and forth - sometimes you don't even know if she is being questioned after or before the murder (which is just absurd!). There's also a lot of time put on showing what a seductive person this young woman is, as most people she meets falls under a sort of spell that makes her irresistible.
Now to the most important part of the film - the artistic values. The movie is beautiful, with some extraordinary interior and exterior shots (I loved the scenes by the ocean - just amazing!). There's a lot of art in the theme since our lead girl is also an artist, and she works with painting naked women. In one scene she paints herself with red and pushes her body against a white background (reminded me of Yves Klein, but with red instead of blue). The art is also in the movie itself, as living people are often switched with mannequins, which makes you wonder - are these people real or not? Who knows? It doesn't matter. This movie is suppose to be a mystery, but it's not just specifically a murder mystery.
The naked women are smoking hot in this and seeing them painted on or used in other artistic set-ups definitely raises it from trash to classy erotica. If you know me then you know I am always looking for good erotic art, and I think with Alain Robbe-Grillet I have found one who knows how to work it into very strange, surreal narrative movies. Which only makes it better!
"Successive Slidings of Pleasure" (I actually know it more by the name "Glissements progressifs du plaisir" but it's just too long for my non-French self to remember) is a modernist murder mystery with ounces of sleaze, but equal amounts of arthouse erotica. Not to mention the great cinematography which raises it up yet another step on the ladder. If you want to watch a murder mystery where you actually feel you're part of solving it and feel satisfied by the answer in the end, then skip this movie. You'll be part of the mystery, but it's just as much a mystery to piece together the narration, so you won't be happy by the lack of attention put on finding out who the murderer is. To me it didn't matter at all, I was happy to watch something definitely out of the ordinary. A bizarre movie, but entertaining and overall a very light viewing that doesn't tangle you too deep into the unexplained - the movie doesn't care if you don't understand.