Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Le Samourai

aka The Godson (US)
Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967, France (8.0*)

This is a very stylish film noir (in color) from French master director Jean-Pierre Melville, about a modern 'samourai', a hit man for hire, used by gangsters in Paris. Glamour boy Alain Delon fits this part perfectly, playing trench-coated Jef Costello with his cold blue-eyed stare and seeming indifference to everything, beautiful women as well as killing. This is all done very quietly, with meticulous care, thankfully with no symphonic or rock music score for distraction, just some occasional tasteful jazz, played live at a nightclub.

The film is almost as much a police procedural, with Francois Perier perfectly cast as the police superintendant investigating the murder committed by Costello near the film's beginning. Delon's wife Nathalie becomes his gorgeous alibi, and Cathy Rosier is the jazz singer at the club where the contract is completed. Even the art direction is perfect, notice how each apartment is furnished perfectly for each of the characters, from tasteful elegance to bare essentials only. After Army of Shadows, #291 on our survey, the highest rated of Melville's films at #358; both scored 8.1 at IMDB, as did his Le Circle Rouge.


This Guy October 14, 2009 at 11:58 PM  

Insanely great film, and wonderful DVD release by Criterion. As far as near-perfect films go, this is near-perfect.

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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