24 November 2008 | ametaphysicalshark
I had not heard of "Trans-Europ-Express" until a couple of months ago, and as soon as the film was available to me I eagerly got a hold of it, but put off watching it until today because I was under the impression that it was a 'difficult' movie and wanted to be in the mood for such a film. Much to my surprise, Alain Robbe-Grillet's "Trans-Europ-Express" is one of the most entertaining and involving films I've ever seen, managing to be cerebral and clever as can be while never giving into being impenetrable for the sake of being impenetrable.
Robert McKee classifies "Trans-Europ-Express" as a 'nonplot' film, and even though the film has two separate 'plots', I suppose it would be accurate enough to say that it doesn't really focus on telling a story set in stone. Classifying the film by genre is equally difficult, it is a somewhat comical film-within-a-film, a mystery, an erotic thriller, and even an espionage film for a bit. Let's just say the fourth wall has never been used so well in a film.
"Trans-Europ-Express" is a playful, adventurous film which seems to want nothing more than to toy with as many genre conventions as it can, and Robbe-Grillet does that so very well here. What's most amazing about the film is that it works on all the levels it's supposed to work on. Furthermore, the acting is superb, the cinematography gorgeous, and Robbe-Grillet's direction captivating and always interesting. I found the use of music here excellent, but the sound mixing even more interesting. The attention to detail is wonderful.
As many 'intimidating' films as I've seen, and as many of them that I have loved, I have to be in the right mood to see them. Perhaps the element of surprise with "Trans-Europ-Express" gave it an advantage, but this really is one of the greatest, most purely enjoyable films I've ever seen. Cerebral, clever, smart, and stylish, all without being too ambitious for its own good, "Trans-Europ-Express" is a movie for everyone and for all moods, a must-see inversion (and perversion) of genre conventions. All film buffs should enjoy this, but it might be of particular interest to one who likes the genres being toyed with here, and I love them.