Le samouraï Reviews
I'd have to call this overrated and rather pretentious.
Jef Costello (Alain Delon), is a hitman who lives alone and has very little human interaction or real relationships. It's the code he lives by in order to remain professional. After completing his contract killing of a nightclub owner, Costello lets his guard down and is witnessed by one of the club's singers. Before he knows it, he's brought in by the police who suspect he's guilty but don't have the evidence to prove it. He's released, but the police are on his trail and so are his employers who now see him as a liability.
As the film opens we linger on a shot of a small desolate room containing only a birdcage and a bed. At first site, it appears the room is empty until you notice a man lying on the bed, smoking a cigarette and saying nothing. This opening shot alone, sets the tone for what is to come in Jean-Pierre Melville's fastidious and incisive near masterpiece. Melville wastes no time on backstory or over explaining the plot. He also has an aversion to dialogue but a very high inclination on style and content. What dialogue there is, is short and to the point. Things are as they are, and that's it. Although, this might sound like there's very little substance to be had here, that couldn't be farther from the truth. Despite, Melville's minimalist approach, the film is awash with symbolism and a deep existential core. This is a director that paved the way for French New Wave cinema, but when you look at his work here, you realise he wasn't as flashy as, say, Jean Luc Goddard or as disjunctive as Francois Truffaut. Melville opts more for restraint and meticulous detail. It's here that he's served perfectly in his leading man Alain Delon. Very rarely have I seen an actor do (and say) practically nothing yet remain so magnetic. Delon is absolutely superb and one of cinema's quintessential and most compelling anti-hero's.
Despite the obvious restraint from cast and crew, though, the film's not without it's moments of masterfully crafted tension. An exchange with the police as they try to identify Costello in a line-up is drawn out and quietly suspenseful and a brilliantly constructed chase on the French metro - which has influenced such directors as William Friedkin in "The French Connection" or Brian De Palma in "Carlito's Way". But again, Melville or Delon never overplay it. The tension is purely built on a sense of realism and grows from their reservation and seemingly stoic approach. When you break "Le Samourai" down a little, you'll see the inspiration that it's had on many films since; directors Jim Jarmusch and John Woo have openly declared the effect it had on them and their films "Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai" and "The Killer", respectively. Even Quentin Tarantino has claimed it to be his favourite gangster film.
It's easy to see why this postmodern, art-house, thriller has appealed and influenced so many filmmakers, as Melville manages to seamlessly blend Western crime folklore with the traditions and warrior codes of the East. He gives it that classic noir look and feel that was so prevalent in the American movies of the 30's and 40's and his vision of Paris' underworld (in desaturated colour) echoes that of American noir in his use of nightclubs, enigmatic jazz singers and dark streets and alleyways that reflect an almost war ravaged city.
Tarantino himself, is guilty of moulding a generation of crime loving cinema goers who expect gratuitous violence and have a propensity for fast talking mobsters. However, when you look back at the stylish and meditative work of Melville, you realise that in order to capture an audience's attention, you don't have to have Mexican standoff's or be talking about Big Kahuna burgers or getting medieval on people's asses with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch. Simplicity can be just as effective.
Mein erster Eindruck von Melville ist ein guter - so viel sei gesagt.
Und das ist, gelinde gesagt, noch eine Untertreibung. In den Fingerspitzen juckt es mich schon, mehr von diesem tollen französischen Filmemacher zu sehen.
Sein Le Samourai ist eine Art Thriller oder auch Gangsterkrimi über einen stillen Attentäter, einen Meister seines Fachs, der eines Nachts nicht hundertprozentig Heil davonkommt, und schlussendlich seine Konsequenzen daraus zieht.
Alain Delon ist Jef Costello, der zum Vorbild für so viele Silent Heroes" des (amerikanischen) Kinos geworden ist. Wenn immer ein Ryan Gosling als The Driver Fluchtautos fährt ist Delons Geist aus Le Samourai anwesend.
Ganz passend zum Protagonisten, vertraut Melville auf die Magie langer Takes und heruntergeschraubter Action innerhalb des Bildkaders. Es geht um Stimmungsaufbau und Komposition, was zu wunderschönen Kamerafahrten und Tracking Shots führt.
Und umso stiller der Film wird, umso spannender wird es dann auch. Die Showdowns werden durch Melvilles spartanischen Stil nur umso intensiver, und somit gehört Le Samourai zu den fesselndsten Filmen der Filmgeschichte (das äußerte sich auch darin, dass ich obwohl ich todmüde war, einfach nicht fähig und willig war, den Fernseher abzudrehen).
Es sind altbekannte Motive und Formeln, die uns Melville hier auftischt. Alles haben wir schon durch die Mühle des amerikanischen Films gehen sehen. Melville wendete hier eine effektive Entschlackungstherapie an, und präsentiert uns einen schönen und erfolgreichen Film.
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.