Sunday, September 20, 2009

Day 232: Le Doulos (1962) - Rank 4/5


Melville takes the old, cliched saying, "With friends like these, who needs enemies," and tailors it to his needs. One of the director's earlier works, the dark theme of friendship runs deep in a tale of a heist gone wrong and the accusations that run wild afterward. A pair of anti-heroes are Melville's offering: Maurice, an ex-con who begins his new life with a quick bit of murder and robbery to get back into the game, and his rather brutal pal, Silian. Silian happens to be a thug that's believed to be a police informant by both sides of the law. When Maurice's heist goes awry and his girlfriend ends up dead, it seems that Silian squealed on Maurice and as a result, the two pals are pitted against one another. But as is typically the case with Melville, the truth is not as black and white as the cinematography.

This is definitely a cruel film (as the best noirs typically are) with not too many folks ending up happy as suspicions boil and the body count rises. Melville utilizes shadow to such a degree that it practically feels like another character in teh film. The dark setting makes his examination of friendship in the underworld seem only that much darker. Maurice and Silian are portrayed with finesse, for in teh wrong hands, the notion of trust in a world filled with murder and mayhem might make the characters seem foolish, but under the guidance of the film's writer/director, they convey a sense of depth and, as odd as it may seem, humanity.

Watch the Trailer

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