Sunday, September 20, 2009

Day 229: Le Samouraï (1969) - Rank 4.5/5


Methodical, perceptive, erudite and collected...Costello(Alain Delon), the protagonist of Jean Pierre Melville's "Le Samourai" is as cool as characters come in the film noir world. Melville takes a minimalist approach to his introverted hitman, providing the viewer with a complex story with very little dialog. As a result, Costello is elevated to the status rivaling a legend. He appears when needed, can disappear without a trace and he can eliminate any target he's assigned without fail or folly...except once.

The tale follows the mysterious hitman as he liquidates an assignment, only to have his act witnessed by sultry lounge singer Valerie (Caty Rosier). Costello still evades immediate arrest because he's a master of establishing alibis and because Valerie denies that she recognizes him in the police lineup. But Costello is not in teh clear, because his alibi starts to crack, putting the police on his trail, the mob is determined to eliminate him for his imperfect job and above all, he seems compelled to understand what drove Valerie to spare him. "Le Samourai" stands above many of its kin because it makes a tremendous leap within the film noir genre, raising the film's status to that of a character study, rather than a tale centered more on a caper, revenge or any of the usual staples, making it a landmark in its own right.

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