I really detest a lot of 60’s and 70’s French cinema with its over stylized, artsy imagery and boring stories. Movies such as “Une Femme Mariee”, “A Woman is a Woman” and “Masculin Feminin” (thanks for wasting my time Jean-Luc Godard) really make me cringe at the thought of watching another movie from that era, but Le Samourai is a large step in the opposite direction.
Billed as a combination of hired hit man mentality with samurai sensibilities (granted i don’t really see this part) Jean-Pierre Melville created an enthralling story without the typical goodguy/badguy dynamic. Each character has something that you cheer for and something that you detest. The main character Jef Costello, a contract killer, walks a fine line after his latest hit job on a nightclub owner. On one hand he is trying to evade the police who are hot on his tail after he is recognized in a lineup and on the other he is trying to figure out who on his end has double crossed him and why. Half way through the movie you are asking “who is on who’s side?” and this is really the strength of this movie, its ability to leave you guessing at each turn of the plot. The movie never treads down a common path and has you rivoted to the very end as this cat and mouse game has more layers than you first are lead to believe. Criterion has done a wonderful job with this movie and has included interviews with Melville as well as some other extras.
Score – 8.5/10
- * New, restored high-definition digital transfer
- * New video interviews with Rui Nogueira, author of Melville on Melville, and Ginette Vincendeau, author of Jean-Pierre Melville: An American in Paris
- * Archival interviews with Melville and actors Alain Delon, François Périer, Nathalie Delon, and Cathy Rosier
- * Theatrical trailer
- * New and improved English subtitle translation
- * PLUS: a 29-page booklet featuring film scholar David Thomson, filmmaker John Woo, and selections from Melville on Melville
R.I.Y.L – Gangster movies, Foreign Classics