Saturday, May 8, 2010

Day 342: Le Cercle Rouge (1953) - Rank 5/5


Over time, Jean-Pierre Melville has grown to be one of my favorite French directors. "Bob le flambeur," "Le Doulos," and "Le Samourai" all smack of brilliance. But, without a doubt, "Le Cercle Rouge" happens to be his best. I know this will come as a slap in the face to those diehards that hold "Le Samourai" atop a pedestal, and rightfully so, since it turns both film noir and French new wave on their heads (like "Le Samourai," this film has a dash of Asian influence). However, the tale of a motley trio - one man an ex-con who rips off the mob on his first day out of jail, the second, an escaped convict and the third, an alcoholic, disgraced detective - out to rob a jewel store is a masterpiece of storytelling. The heist that links the three is reminiscent of "Rififi" but it's not the crux of the tale. The interactions among the three men are complex and subdued, but never convoluted. Clearly Melville at the height of his game, and it's a damned shame the man passed away a mere two years after completing the story.

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