There's been a death in a French flophouse, but virtually all of the film takes place in a deserted factory which Moreau has turned into a gloomy café of sorts. Here four men play bridge while the Dior-draped Ardant languishes in a hammock. One of them is a killer. The barman (Piccoli in fine whimsical form) is the 'nonentity' of the title; he presides over the game-playing, and cues bursts of loud music: Janacek, for example, serves to herald the entrance of the detective (Yanne) determined to unravel the murder mystery. When not being abused by the customers, Piccoli reads a copy of the thriller by Franz-Rudolph Falk on which the film is based: its subject, in other words, is nothing but itself. This is Robbe-Grillet intertextualised with Greenaway, and the result is an enthralling tediousness.
Cast and crew
Fanny Ardant Daniel Auteuil Richard Bohringer Philippe Léotard Jeanne Moreau Michel Piccoli Claude Piéplu Jean Yanne An Luu