21 October 2021

Jacques Baratier's Piège (1968)

Jacques Baratier considered the cinema as an intellectual adventure as opposed to a profession and associated with such writers as Jacques Audiberti and Fernando Arrabal. Arrabal himself appears at the beginning of the film as a seller of pest and vermin traps when talking and trying to weigh up the brain of Arsène (Jean-Baptiste Thierrée), whom he realises wants to set traps for humans, realises that he is worried about his precious possessions, probably worried about his own psychology. And so the young Arsène buys a large trap and entices recently released female criminals played by Bernadette Lafont and Bulle Ogier to his elaborate home, where they proceed to ransack the place (and eventually destroy it) in a spree which to some extent resembles that of the two young women in Věra Chytilová's Daisies.

But Piège is narrative-lite: this is a surrealistic orgy of destruction, sado-masochism, nightmares, fetichism, etc, where dreams prevail and where sense takes a back seat. Arsène is the leader but also his own executioner, and the end cannot in any way be positive for him. This is a classic of its kind.

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