Le samouraï - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Le samouraï Reviews

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April 29, 2017
Beautifully shot, spare, and oh, so cool. Too cool, in fact, as its detachment mostly ices the suspense. Hugely influential; I bet De Niro, Mann, and Frankenheimer watched it a few dozen times before making Heat or Ronin.
½ April 10, 2017
This was a film that I was pleased to cross off the To-Watch Pile as part of the prep to listen to the Projection Booth Podcast cover both it and the unofficial re-make from the late '90s. The film follows methodical hitman as he tries to tie up loose ends after leaving a witness behind, which only starts to paint him into a an even smaller corner.

Very well-regarded and for good reason, give this one a look.

March 5, 2017
Yorgos Lanthimos rec
February 6, 2017
One of the greatest.
January 11, 2017
A superb action thriller. Set in an urban landscape. Alain Delon as Jef plays a perfect samurai warrior with a gun instead of a sword. And the police that chase after Jef Costello are ruthless to get the job done. It's a very well balanced thriller that engages you more and more as it goes along. Starting out rather slow and some might even say "boring," but like it's lead samurai, the movie is always one step ahead of you. Often surprising you when you least expect it to. it has a slow burn aspect that I really fell in love with during it's final act. I would watch it again in a heartbeat. As the movie is shown to be more charming than I might initially have thought. All in all, the movie is a fantastic work and does a great job world building to immerse you in something that fells very dangerous. 5 out of 5
½ October 4, 2016
Classic. Quintessential movie of it's genre. The Driver (1978), The Professional (1994), Ghost dog (1999), Drive (2011) - all of these movies came from this particular Mellvile's Masterpiece. Silent and speechless Delon is the archetype for many essential Hollywood characters.
June 4, 2016
April 30, 2016
This film would equate being a paid assassin with a Samurai, but the latter would never do the deed strictly for remuneration. That said, this was a good period film. France looked pretty rough in 1967, from the looks of this, but you can see the construction of what France looks like today. A bit of a time traveling journey, and we've seen Delon in this character before. 3 Stars - one of the 1001 Movies
½ April 23, 2016
Looking back, basically every Alain Delon's film looks just the same.
February 25, 2016
Very cool and very calculated. A riveting experience held up by Alain Delon's performance and Melville's attention to detail. A masterclass in noir-espionage film canon.
January 27, 2016
A mesmerazing film from the first shot, The use of lighting in this film it's like seeing a painter brush in motion, the pace is perfect, the tension gripping,. Melville proofs beyond all doubts that he was one of the greatest european directors of all times, altough his influence is seldom mentioned nowadays. This is one of the best examples of modern Film Noir, and Alain Delon shines (along with a very consistent cast) as one of the most cold blooded, unapologetic and smooth killers ever put to screen. Definitively a must see for any movie lover.
½ November 5, 2015
Boring movie. I like the tense feeling the film creates, but there wasn't much dialogue and the characters weren't deep. It was definitely not a memorable movie.
October 31, 2015
Le Samouraï is not a masterpiece because of its no-nonsense, economical, and stylish construction, all traits that can ultimately be found in any dimestore noir; it's a masterpiece because of its underlying sadness, its portrayal of quiet pain, and its commitment to calculated anxiety.

Alain Delon is perfect for this role, beautiful and mysterious and capable of communicating silent desperation with just intense stares and moments of silence, an unknowable and yet entirely universal embodiment of a human being cut off from human emotion. The bird in Jef's apartment serves as a security measure, but it also keeps him from killing himself, a physical presence that upsets his meticulous routines. Like the world of the film itself, he is not passionate, cool and calculating out of necessity but hopeless and depressed and without purpose beyond duty. When the world turns against him, he gives in without hesitation, and the tragedy of his ultimate demise is remarkable, succinct, and poignant in a way that makes Le Samouraï one of the absolutely best of its genre and of its medium as a whole.
Super Reviewer
½ October 17, 2015
What is so absorbing in this highly influential crime drama is how the methodical actions of its characters (most especially Delon's magnetic protagonist) reflect the surgical precision of the film itself, something also noticeable in its blue-grayish cinematography and stylish direction.
August 18, 2015
May 16, 2015
Hard to believe a film like this made traction in the revolutionary world of cinema circa-1967...but, yet here it is in all of it's minimalist glory. Jean-Pierre Melville "Father of the French New Wave" and director of 1967's Le Samourai wrote and directed this film, which stars Alain Delon as a hit man with the soul of a Ronin, Francois Perier as the lead detective, Nathalie Delon (wife of the actor) as an prostitute alibi, and model-turned-actress Caty Rosier as a reluctant witness. Melville, a true cineophile, crafted, what is arguably called his masterpiece, Le Samourai from the Hollywood film noir of the 1940s and 1950s. Future audiences of Le Samourai are strongly encouraged to view the Criterion version as it includes very useful extras, such as video interviews with Rui Nogueira, author of Melville on Melville, and Ginette Vincendeau, author of Jean-Pierre Melville: An American in Paris; and archival interviews with Melville and actors Alain Delon, François Périer, Nathalie Delon, and Cathy Rosier. The gangster story presented in the film is a potent vehicle for Melville to tell his story of lone-wolf masculinity clashing with a modern society who doesn't know how to handle it. Also, watch for the very thin strands of black humor throughout. Delon plays the title role ritualistic and stoic and fits Melville's style perfectly making Le Samourai the actor's crown jewel in a lifetime of film. At 105 minutes, the film feels longer, not because it is dull, but that it is so light on dialogue it feels like the end may come at any time; this deliberate minimalist approach may prove frustrating to some viewers. Recommended for students and lovers of 1960s in film, French New Wave, and foreign cinema in general.
½ May 14, 2015
As hitmen go, this one is clearly not very good as you'll see, although I think that we are still meant to think that he's a super-cool pro. Yes the film looks good and isn't boring but the ending still has me scratching my head now.
March 26, 2015
Alain Delon has had it. It's 1967, he's sitting on the hot seat of France's famed movie series, Monsieur Cinéma, and he's promoting Le Samouraï. "We have the great pleasure of welcoming Alain Delon to our show," the host says, looking in his guest's direction. "Alain Delon is in the spotlight because 'Le Samouraï' is opening this week." But the ambiance doesn't feel like a respected Inside the Actors Studio precursor; it feels more like a talk show, and Delon isn't in a good mood. He's been better known for his looks than his talents for his entire career. He's proud of the work he has done in acclaimed works like Purple Noon and The Leopard, but he finds himself taken less seriously than he'd like to be simply because he resembles a suave Dolce & Gabbana model. The Male Bardot, they call him.
But he's 32. He doesn't want to be labeled as a pretty boy who somehow gets enviable parts any longer. So instead of saying thank you to his host's polite but slightly condescending introduction, he elaborates on the date of the film's opening. "It's this Wednesday." he smirks. Aware of his guest's snarky mood, the host tries to pick himself back up. "The posters are all over Paris, and they're very striking. 'Le Samouraï', in big, black letters."
"Red." Delon interrupts before his interviewer can even say "letters." He's seen it all before: the host who actually knows nothing about the film but pretends to love it, the host who puts on a grin in order to appease disinterested viewers. Maybe he would have let this fly in the past, but Le Samouraï is far too important to him. He believes it to be a turning point in his undermined career. This isn't just some fluffy movie audiences hear about on a television program like it's Dean Martin's newest vehicle; this is "a work of art," he puts it. "A true auteur film in every aspect."
He goes on to discuss the ins-and-outs of the film with the watchful eye of an obsessed movie buff, and it's unlike anything we've seen Delon do before, personally or professionally. He's always been the confident kid that whisks by with a hint of danger, an exotic woman by his side. This image, along with the entire introduction of this review, may or may not be dramatized speculation on my part, but when I picture Delon, I picture him as the guy from L'Eclisse, fiendishly charismatic but in a tug-of-war between boyhood and the idea of an adulthood in which being taken seriously is everything.
Jean-Pierre Melville uses Delon in a way most directors would be afraid to attempt. Before, Delon's charm was his selling point, but in Le Samouraï, his allure is snatched from him. Melville takes away any ounce of precious dialogue in favor of a more nuanced approach, forcing Delon to embody a particularly cryptic character mostly through body language. In the past, actors in gangster films have been able to mangle the script and somehow spike their delivery to sound more menacing than usual. But Delon has to do something even harder, having to exude invincibility all the while keeping an icy exterior. People turn towards scenery-chewing performances when thinking about characterizations that "moved" them; in contrast Delon has done something masterful with subtlety, undoubtedly more impressive than the booming Shakespearian actors that began to creep out during the 1960s.
He portrays Jef Costello, a hitman who secludes himself in stark landscapes in order to wash away any hint of an emotion. Famously, the film opens in a darkly lit apartment, completely silent except for a bird chirping every few seconds. Cigarette smoke dangles in the atmosphere while Costello liess on his bed, looking out his window with reflection. As Melville holds this shot for several uncomfortable minutes, the character is developed before we are even given the chance to hear his name. Whether he's a comedian or a Liza Minnelli impersonator or an assassin, we're witnessing an individual so drenched in solitude that the idea of loneliness may not even occur to them.
We see Costello go through his daily rituals, putting on his trench coat and fedora with strange precision, keying a car to get some extra loot, later pulling a job at a nightclub. Throughout the film, he doesn't show the slightest smidgen of a feeling. Is he numb? In denial? Truthfully, it doesn't matter. Though the storyline sees his normally smooth routine being interrupted by an investigation, he doesn't seem worried about the government closing in on his every move. He is so far into a life of crime that dying for his cause doesn't seem all that bad.
This is probably why the film is called Le Samouraï, as the samurais in all those Asian epics were more than willing to lose their lives in order to appease their reputations and their peers. Unlike Melville's earlier projects, Le Samouraï doesn't have the same blatant criminal romanticism. It's slick and crystalline, yes, but every frame carries enough tension to suggest that Dolph Lundgren might come out of the shadows and Machine Gun Kelly everyone to death. A tragic ending is a given. Silence is cherished in the film; along with Delon's moodless characterization, the facsimile of scenic solitude is furthered. The greyed-out style, Melville's intricate direction, and, of course, Delon's performance, work together with astonishing virtuosity.
The only complaint I ever find myself having with Melville films is how untouchable they are. They feel miles apart from us, detached, so stylish that we grow to be more appreciative than adoring. But there is no denying how great a filmmaker Melville is. "He's the greatest director I've had the good fortune, pleasure, and honor to work with up to this point." Delon dryly gushes later on in the Monsieur Cinéma interview. It sounds dramatic, but sometimes, melodrama can be true. Melville is not just a guy with a dream; he's a visionary, a poet of style.
½ January 19, 2015
A man so cool he can't be bothered to finish spelling his own name, (or even speak in the first 10 minutes of the movie), hit man Jef Costello is hunted by enemies and friends alike, and he doesn't have any friends. Le Samourai is the figurehead of Melville's career, the story a lone assassin whose rigid code is undone by the unforeseen arrival of love. It's a stalwart theme now, but no film has done it so sparely and tragically. Costello lives by the strict code of the Bushido, thinks deeply, chain-smokes cigarettes and wears a hat indoors. He is, in short, le samourai, the ultimate antihero in Jean-Pierre Melville's existential crime thriller. Thanks to Alain Delon's career-best turn and Melville's noose-tight plotting, he's a true icon of cinema. John Woo owes his career to this.
November 6, 2014
Jean-Pierre Melville's stylish french film noir exudes atmosphere and a whole lotta attitude!
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