The Blue Villa
Time Out saysPerhaps the French title - Un bruit qui rend fou (a maddening noise) - evokes more accurately the particular qualities of Robbe-Grillet's movie. As in Last Year in Marienbad and L'Immortelle, the writer/director can't simply let a story unfold, but worries away at it with question after question, hypothesis after hypothesis. Thus, when a Mediterranean island is revisited by Frank (Ward), a sailor said to have drowned a year earlier when he fled after allegedly killing 16-year-old Santa, we're unsure not only whether he's a ghost, but whether the girl is actually dead or hidden in a bordello, the Blue Villa, run by a shady chanteuse (Dombasle). We're unsure even whether Frank's return is for real, or something imagined by Santa's father, a screenwriter (Tordjman), whom, naturally, the police chief suspects of being behind the crime, if it ever happened. Despite the longueurs, fans of Ruiz, Greenaway or Welles' Confidential Report may find much to enjoy. Nevertheless, just as the whiff of sexual perversity now seems both dubious and dated, so the film's arch artifice seems strangely out of touch with current film-making concerns.