Walter Raim, an agent working for a secret police origination of sorts encounters a mysterious, nameless blonde woman in a nightclub and is soon dancing with the beautiful stranger before being called away by his boss, the enigmatic Sara Zeitgeist. After receiving his job instructions from Sara, Walter discovers the prone body of the woman he was dancing with earlier bound in the road and drives to the nearest house to look for help, only to encounter a group of ominous men. One claims to be a doctor and escorts the two to a room which they soon find themselves locked in. The next morning, Walter wakes up to find the house empty and in ruins and the blonde woman missing. Utterly confounded, Walter sets out on the odd and potentially dangerous task of uncovering the identity of the blonde woman and figuring out just what happened on that night.
Almost impossible to mistake for the work of any other filmmaker, La belle captive (The Beautiful Prisoner) is a quintessential Robbe-Grillet dreamscape inspired in part by the works of Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte. Immediately after the opening credits Robbe-Grillet establishes a mood that gives off the sense that what is happening is happening outside of time in another dimension and the further Walter gets in his investigation of the mystery woman the more pronounced that mood becomes. Robbe-Grillet’s languid pacing and Walter’s noirish voice-overs heard throughout the film also add to the films already ethereal abstractions as well and give parts of the film a kind of 1940’s detective story feel. As bizarre as the film is, its must be emphasized that the film is far from being weird for weirdness sake, the central mystery is legitimately intriguing and the stranger it gets it only becomes more so with all the left curves Robbe-Grillet throws in from the added subplot of a murder investigation, the detective always on Walter’s trail, the idea that the blonde woman may or may not be the dead daughter of a man who see’s spirits and the suggestion that she may be a vampire. Of course Walter’s occupation and boss Sara Zeitgeist also come into play which give way to one of the films reoccurring visual motifs, postcards featuring a seaside landscape, just one of many Magritte inspired pieces Robbe-Grillet features prominently throughout the film which in turn also lead to several archetypal Robbe-Grillet beach set pieces.