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Movie review: ‘Wild Grass’ puzzling but enjoyable tale

Move over, “Inception.” Your reign as the year’s most enjoyably baffling movie has just ended.

“Wild Grass,” the new picture by 88-year-old French New Wave icon Alain Resnais, starts out in surprisingly linear and logical fashion: Marguerite (Sabine Azema) goes shopping for shoes and has her purse stolen by a thief on rollerblades.

Later, Georges (Andre Dussollier) – a man with a volatile temper, paranoid disposition and possibly shady, even murderous, past – finds her red wallet, devoid of cash but still filled with her various IDs.

Returning the item should be a snap, but Georges, a retiree happily wed to a much-younger woman (Anne Consigny), suddenly gets nervous about contacting Marguerite, based on a vague attraction he feels to her photo. So he takes the wallet to the police station and leaves it in the hands of a cop (Mathieu Amalric).

With that, the matter should have ended. But Georges, whose behavior increasingly suggests he’s not all quite there, becomes obsessed with Marguerite, whom he’s never met, and that fixation begins to manifest in odd, sometimes threatening ways.

To this point, “Wild Grass,” which employs a wry, self-deprecating voice-over narrator and some highly stylish camerawork, feels like a comic thriller building into a kind of strange romance. But Resnais (“Last Year at Marienbad,” “Hiroshima Mon Amour”), who has as many ardent fans as detractors, gradually starts to leave all semblance of logic and reason behind.

“Wild Grass” becomes increasingly loopy as Marguerite and Georges perform a tango of restraining orders, slashed tires and bouts of stalking and hurtle toward an inevitable, almost preordained love.

Resnais brings all his experience to bear on this simple yet elusive tale, and the movie is a pleasure visually, even if all the narrative t’s and i’s aren’t crossed and dotted.

I defy anyone to explain the film’s closing scene to me – or to argue that, however puzzling, it doesn’t feel just right.