Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Man Who Lies (Redemption/Kino Blu-ray)

The Man Who Lies from Alain Robbe-Grillet is an exciting and often funny movie filled with powerful performances, erotic exploration and even a dramatic manhunt. While the works of Robbe-Grillet can often feel completely surreal, bordering on full blown experimental jaunts into sexual depravity and debauch, The Man Who Lies feels like a more concrete narrative than a series of mysterious fever dreams strung together to convey an idea. Redemption along side Kino Lorber has offered up The Man who Lies on Blu-ray as part of their continuing look into Alain Robbe-Grillet’s restored catalog.

Synopsis from Redemption:

On the run from pursuing soldiers, Boris (Jean-Louis Trintignant) finds a refuge in a small European town which, years before, was home to Jean, a resistance fighter hunted by the Nazis. Boris ingratiates himself in the community, weaving tales of his encounters with the martyred rebel, and thereby seducing Jean's widow - and sister - and maid. But Boris's erotic games are interrupted when a mysterious stranger who may, in fact, be Jean arrives in the village.

Though it is a dark film featuring the evil villain Nazis chasing down a seemingly helpless victim, the movie immediate becomes a lighthearted roll in the hay for at least a short while. There are moments of comedy that are surrounded by strange use of time and flashbacks to convey possibility or choice and give back story to certain scenes without following a strict formula. This creates the novelty that is often occupied by strange metaphorical imagery in Robbe-Grillet’s pictures.

The transfer looks good with plenty of film grain from the original 35mm elements though the aspect ratio threw me off (1.33:1, 1920 x 1080p). I was expecting a widescreen release for some reason. It took a small adjustment. The disc includes an interview with Robbe –Grillet and three trailers of his movies. The cover is perhaps more seductive than the movie itself. There’s more story than sexy in this feature.

The Man Who Lies may not be my favorite Robbe-Grillet release, but it’s actually very accessible for the student of film and for folks unfamiliar with his work. That being said this is hardly an ordinary release and still conveys much of the same experimental storytelling and cinematography used as the French New Wave’s influence continued to influence newer films from Europe (The Man Who Lies is from 1968).

-Doc Terror

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