Franz (Le jeu avec le feu)

Created by Alain Robbe-Grillet

Franz (left) tries to keep abreast of events in a very confusing case.


Breasts! Orgies! Dream sequences!

Le jeu avec le feu (1975) is a prime slab of misogynist French erotica, courtesy of experimental, avante-garde film-maker Alain Robbe-Grillet, who squeezes in all his usual kinks–lots of beautiful (and naked) women, plenty of bondage, a little incest, a little S&M, a little rape, and a little bestiality (something for everyone!), plus oodles of art-house pretension and a non-linear plot that leans on crime and detective tropes, but never bothers to do anything more than lean. That’s because nobody who would purposely seek out this film gives a damn about plot–that would be like saying you go to a strip joint for the food.

And so, in between numerous attractive women being tied up, tortured, molested and occasionally cut, we learn that Carolina de Saxe (played by Christine Boisson), the daughter of wealthy banker and weirdo Georges (Philippe Noiret), has been kidnapped. Except that it’s possible another woman was kidnapped by mistake.

Nonetheless, Georges, unaware that his daughter is safe, upstairs in her room, is frantic to get her back, and hires FRANZ, a sleazy scumball of a private eye, to rescue her and save her from her kidnappers (whom he may–or may not–be working with). Which, eventually, in between various sex scenes (some real, some possibly imagined) heavy on assorted perversion (if light on actual sense), he does (sorta), finally tracking her down to some cockamamie, surreal whorehouse, where even more extreme kinkiness is going on, including a scene where a near-double of dear old dad whips the hell out of Carolina, before having his way with her. Franz eventually rescues her, and the two escape.

Or something.

It’s all intellectual as fuck, and I’m told that we’re not supposed to take any of this seriously; that this film is actually “an intensely self-aware parody” according to one film student propellerhead, where “what you see in the film is not necessarily the truth, and characters are also not what they claim to be. To add to the chaos, actors return to play different characters during its run-time – perhaps this is a Freudian examination, perhaps it is reminding us that everything, like the film, is make-believe, or perhaps the characters themselves are two-faced.”


I’m sure the wankers down at the local InCel chapter will give it five stars, but this film, comedy, parody, avante-garde wet dream, whatever you call it, pretty much sucks.


  • “Chauvinistic erotica Robbe-Grillet style with lots of nudity and men that discuss and control the fate of these women in absurd ways, but your brain is too confused to get turned on.”
    The Worldwide Celluloid Massacre
  • “Watching this movie is an unquestionable pleasure for your eyes, and an unbelievable loss for your mind.”
    — subverted (IMDB)


  • LE JEU AVEC LE FEU | Watch it now!
    (aka “Playing with Fire”)
    (1975, Arcadie Productions/Madeleine Films/Cinecompany)
    Language: French
    Written and directed by Alain Robbe-Grillet
    Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant as FRANZ
    Also starring Christine Boisson, Sylvia Kristel, Philippe Noiret, Anicée Alvina, Agostina Belli, Serge Marquand, Charles Millot, Philippe Ogouz, Vernon Dobtcheff, Serge Marquand, Jacques Seiler, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Nathalie Zeiger, Joëlle Coeur


  • X-Rated
    Dirty Eyes & Other Not-So-Private Dicks
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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