Le Samourai (Criterion Collection) (Version française)
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In a career-defining performance, Alain Delon plays blue-eyed Jef Costello, a fedora- and trench-coat-wearing contract killer with samurai instincts. When Jef assassinates a nightclub owner, he finds himself confronted by a series of witnesses, who drop his perfect world into the hands of a persistent police investigator and Jefs shadowy employer, both of whom are determined to put an end to the smooth criminal. A razor-sharp cocktail of 1940s American gangster cinema and 1960s French pop culturewith a liberal dose of Japanese lone-warrior mythologymaverick director Jean-Pierre Melvilles masterpiece Le samouraï defines cool.
Alain Delon is the coolest killer to hit the screen, a film noir loner for the modern era, in Jean-Pierre Melville's austere 1967 French crime classic. Delon's impassive hit man, Jef Costello, is the ultimate professional in an alienated world of glass and metal. On his latest contract, however, he lets a witness live--a charming jazz pianist, Valerie (Cathy Rosier), who neglects to identify him in the police lineup. When Costello survives an assassination attempt by his employers, he carefully plots his next moves as cops and criminals close in and he prepares for one last job. Melville meticulously details every move by Costello and the police in fascinating wordless sequences, from Costello's preparations for his first hit to the cops' exhaustive efforts to tail Jef as he lines up his last; and his measured pace creates an otherworldly ambiance, an uneasy calm on the verge of shattering. Costello remains a cipher, a zen killer whose façade begins to crack as the world seems to be collapsing in on him, exposing the wound-up psyche hidden behind his blank face. Melville rethinks film noir in modern terms, as an existential crime drama in soft, somber color and sleek images (courtesy of cinematographer extraordinaire Henri Decaë). Le Samouraï inspired two pseudo-remakes, Walter Hill's Driver and John Woo's Killer, but neither film comes close to the compelling austerity and meticulous detail of Melville's cult masterpiece. --Sean Axmaker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
In addition, the "Special Features" of this Criterion print are invaluable; I think they desrve to be watched --after the film is viewed of course...
The main character makes this a very good film, but just doesn't come across as convincing as some of the other assasins I've seen on film.
This is a very dark tale of a meticulous assassin living very secluded and alone in a rundown apartment house; inconspicuous, hiding in plain sight, a Spartan existance, a monk's simplicity and pure dedication to vocational choice. There is only one spark of life in the greyness of his domicile...a small bird in a dirty cage. This is a color film, but most of it is shot in deep shadows, and at night; all gray and black imagery. And in that sense, it does have a real Noir feel to it.
This film has been so well received, and is held in such high esteem, somehow I, as a first time viewer, expected more from it. The lexicon of assassin crime films is lengthy, so one longed to see something new, fresh, and original; something connected to samurai or yakuza roots. There was the establishment of a pervading sense of doom, of fatalistic events, as we watched Alain Delon as Jef Costello maneuvering himself into tragedy.
But for me, the primary weakness of this film was Delon himself. His matinee good looks, his Bogart-like raincoat, his smooth short brimmed fedora, his strained attempts at coolness...all seemed wrong, and off-center. I needed to see toughness, not the stiffness and effeminate posing. I needed to see Yves Montand or Gerard Depardieu as Costello.Read more ›
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