Director: Alain Resnais
Writer: Alain Robbe-Grillet
Actors: Delphine Seyrig, Giorgio Albertazzi
Him: I'm so glad we finally got to see Last Year at Marienbad yesterday! It was an interesting film don't you think?
Her: What film, I wasn't even with you yesterday
Him: What do you mean? We were sitting right here watching this film
Her: You must be mistaken, I've never heard of that film in my life
Him: What do you mean! I'm positive, I remember all of the details of last night really well.
Her: I'm sorry I don't remember a single thing, you must be mistaken
Him: What about this picture I took of you sitting here yesterday, how do you explain that
Her: You cannot tell that it is the same apartment, many people could have taken it at any apartment
Him: I am certain!
That little excerpt is basically the entire plot for Last Year at Marienbad (1961). This is in no way mocking the film, I actually weirdly enjoyed it. However, when I was first watching the film, as 20 minutes passed I was going crazy at not really understanding what was going on. Then I came to accept that I may never understand what is going on. The film from my understanding is like the game of cards that was played in the movie. No one was able to understand how the host kept on winning. No matter who started and no matter how many times they played, the host always won. This I believe is a metaphor for the film. No matter how much we try to interpret the film, director Alan Resnais will always come out victorious due to intricate complexity of the film. Nevertheless, even though I still do not understand this film well, I will try to get something meaningful out of this review.
For some strange reason, I couldn't help but be mesmerized by this film. If I am being completely honest the film did bore me a bit due to the repetitive nature of the story. Yet it did not ruin the overall experience of the film for me. Because I know that the film has much more to offer, and that just needs to be further dissected and analyzed in order to get a full understanding of it all. Nevertheless, the film is very unique. The cinematography along with the soundtrack play a key role in hooking the viewer. Alan Resnais constantly moves us around the hotel with no real indication of where we are or when we are. Characters constantly have changed outfits and all we can do is try to grasp onto anything that may make sense of what is going on. The film is interesting in its approach on this matter. Because if you just try to explain the plot, as I have in that short bit at the start, it will be very simple. A man insists to a woman that he knows her, yet she denies it. However, when you watch the film you see much more. A haunting maze of questions and possibilities that Resnais has kept for the viewer to either accept the way it is, or try to go deeper into the rabbit hole and understand what is going on. Either path chosen I believe will lead to no result, which is what I believe the director intended. Which I have come to the realization, after watching this film, that it is fine to not understand. Sometimes, not understanding a film is the only way to understand it. That is what I believe Last Year at Marienbad offers to the audience. A sense of confusion. Again, that is fine if you accept it. If you painstakingly go after a solution for the sake of finding one you will never be satisfied.
If I am being completely frank, I do not know why I liked this film. I mean, the film bored me a bit, and it managed to confuse me a lot. But, after finishing the film, all I could think about was the film itself! For some reason, scenes kept coming back into my mind. I don't know whether or not it was due to the brilliant camera work that exceeded my expectations of what a film in 1961 can do, or it was the mesmerizing way it was structured. Nevertheless, I actually did enjoy this film for whatever reason. And I think there is no reason to justify my enjoyment because that is how Resnais I feel wanted it to be, just like the card game. I have nothing else really to say about the film. I do not understand it well enough to articulate more thoughts onto this review. So I will leave you with this. This film is definitely not for everyone. If you feel adventurous, you can go for it. Just remember that you may not feel satisfied with what you see. And in my opinion, that's just the way to enjoy this film, by being unsatisfied. Huh, such a strange concept.