"Murder à la Mod," the first feature to be released here by de Palma, is [an] ambitious and abrasive work. It opens with an unseen director screen testing girls for the lead in a nudie murder mystery, which without the nudie element, becomes the frame for the film itself.
It's as difficult to tell the difference between the reality and the illusion within the film as it is between the blood and catchup in the film-within-the-film.
"Murder à la Mod," has a mind and reality of its own. It's completely logical in its use of cinematic tricks—speeded-up action and slow motion, and slapstick humor that is not funny, juxtaposed with mayhem that is.
There is a limit as to just how far this sort of playfulness can be carried. In the context of most of today's moviemaking, however, it's fun to see directors who are willing to acknowledge the movie form, and who do not try to convince us that what we see on the screen is necessarily "real." When they don't try—curiously—we often do believe, which is what movies are all about.
Vincent Canby, "Films for Film's Sake," in The New York Times (© 1968 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), May 2, 1968, p. 57.∗