The title says Express, but the film makes local stops. While we’re principally with Elias from here, there are regular interruptions that return us to the three in their train compartment... They float ideas for what should happen next, and we see Trintignant/Elias act those ideas out. Sometimes they’re discarded, sometimes accepted and built on...
Robbe-Grillet’s propensity for displaying Brion nearly naked and in chains suggested what was to come in his all his later film work. For in Trans-Europ-Express Marie France Pisier is similarly unclothed and enchained. The difference is one of tone. Trans-Europ-Express is a kind of comedy in which Robbe-Grillet “sends up” none other than himself.
Returning throughout to the film’s simple framing device briefly gives the audience a chance to come up for air, but the real pleasure lies in being thrown, headlong, into the erotic cat-and-mouse pas de deux. Alternating between Continental decorum and sexual depravity, Trans-Europ-Express proves that, where erotic thrillers are concerned, sometimes a good mindfuck is the best kind of foreplay.