Last Year in Marienbad (1961) gets all the press, but my favorite Alain Robbe-Grillet film is L’Immortelle. It’s the first he wrote AND directed and while perhaps not as slick as LYIM, it’s got an exotic/erotic charm that gets under your skin. Suffice to say, if I could make movies (ie, if I had a budget), this is the kind of movie I would make (watch it and you’ll know why I don’t have a budget).
The film is already a critical darling, so I’m not going to explain why it’s so terrific. Here are two well written exegeses:
The film was shot entirely in and around Istanbul, almost by accident. As Wikipedia explains, “A Belgian producer agreed to let Robbe-Grillet direct a film from his own screenplay on the condition that the film be shot in Turkey, using ‘blocked funds’ (profits from an earlier film that could not be taken out of the country) owed to Cocinor, the French production company.”
One outcome of this production constraint is an amazing soundtrack, which no one really talks about in reviews. It features some minimalist compositions for strings and Eastern-inflected flute riffs by Georges Delerue, and also lots of mid-century Turkish pop music, which truly is a treasure trove. The internal soundtrack is also compelling, and reminiscent of radio plays.
Taken from a crappy video transfer I downloaded, here is a 35 minute cut of the soundtrack that can be enjoyed for the music and ambient effects. I’ve left in a little of the French and Turkish dialoge, but cut nearly an hour off the total film.
This is meant as a stand-alone soundtrack…so kick back, put on your headphones, and dive into the wicked aural sensibilities of the immortal Alain Robbe-Grillet.