Le Samourai is nothing short of a masterpiece. I can't believe that it took me this long to actually get around seeing this movie- and when it began, I couldn't take my eyes off of it. This is certainly one of the coolest movies I've ever seen. The director, Jean-Pierre Melville, executes every little detail perfectly and so intricately that it hurts. Every little frame adds up to something significant in the movie, and without the intricate framing, the movie wouldn't have quite nearly the same atmosphere. Everything is so perfectly executed, that it demands several viewings, and even then, Melville's amazing direction would still be able to sustain suspense, even though you would know how everything would play out. I wouldn't be surprised if this was an inspiration (in fact, I'm almost certain it is) to many future noir films, with its cold, mostly silent main character, its intricate, cool atmosphere and visuals, and its thoughtful, tense plot. One thing's for sure, however, that this movie is a lot better than many of the noir films of our time.
Le Samourai has an interesting concept. It's about a professional assassin named Jef Costello (Alain Delon) who's hired to kill a nightclub owner by the orders of his boss. As Jef carries out the killing of the nightclub owner successfully, the police begin to investigate the case and rounds up suspects to figure out who the killer was, with Jef being one of them. That's the basic premise, and that's all I'll say because this is a film that's better not knowing much about to enjoy it. The strongest aspect behind the magic of this film is Alain Delon's character as Jef Costello, and he is incredibly cool. Jef is a lone wolf, and is a man of few words. He takes his job professionally and seriously, constantly attempting to conceal himself from the public, and using meticulous methods to carry out his job. He's expressionless and lonely, and always wears a fedora and a coat around. Alain Delon portrays him beautifully and perfectly, and he is a man of solitude here. Although some of his motivations are not revealed to the audience, as well as other plot elements, it's really up to the audience to figure out a few things and tie a few ends. Perhaps he chooses to be alone, or his nature leads to his loneliness- it's unclear, but we know that he's a self-sufficient man that knows how to almost never get caught. Alain Delon is probably the most important part of this film, and without his screen presence, the film would be nowhere near as remarkable, even with all the superb technical aspects and extraordinary narrative.
Beyond Alain Delon, Le Samourai still has tons of depth. The story is very thoughtful and extremely tense and suspenseful, making full use of its concept. Some parts of it are rather ambiguous, which was something I wasn't quite expecting, but I was fine with. In fact, I thought it made the film a little more interesting and showed that the audience doesn't need every detail to have a reasoning behind it. When it comes to the detailing of the film, it is perfect. There are lots of quiet scenes with perfect framing, such as smoke blowing out of a cigarette or Jef Costello slightly turning his hat as he leaves his apartment, and it results in odd, yet incredible interest in the film. There are even some subtle details that don't really add up to anything, but they're fascinating to notice and show Melville's attention to detail clearly. There's minimal dialogue, and it's only spoken when it's necessary, adding an interesting sense of melancholy. The atmosphere is perfect, and it's so good that it's hard to explain it. Aside from the atmosphere and detailing, the supporting cast is great, and two people that come to mind are Cathy Rosier and Francois Perier. I found the relationship between Cathy's character, Valerie, and Jeff Costello to be an interesting and mysterious one, and Francois's role as a police inspector added lots of tensity to the film. I can't forget the soundtrack by Francois de Roubaix either, and it's very memorable, especially the title theme.
Le Samourai is simply an experience that must be seen to be believed. It's an extraordinary film that I probably won't see anything similar to for a while. Everything is so perfectly executed that it hurts. Despite its incredible style and atmosphere that drags you into the film and doesn't let go, Le Samourai manages to go beyond the fedoras and coats and manages to create a thoughtful, very suspenseful story. It's odd to think that Alain Delon's role as a heartless assassin is awesome to watch, but he was such a fascinating character with such style that it's hard not to think he is. I loved every second of this movie, whether it's the opening that sets up the somber tone of the film from the beginning, or if it's the perfect framing of subtle details. Le Samourai is a brilliant noir that begs to be seen again, and I surely will, because personally, I think this is one of those rare films that is so different and brilliant from lots of the others of its genre, that it deserves a lot more attention. Le Samourai is so perfectly made that it's hard not to appreciate it.