Le Samourai is one of Quentin Tarantino’s favorite films. He says that the French classic influenced him on creating the world of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction.
The 1967 movie stars French superstar Alain Delon as Jef Costello, an assassin who lives a life of isolation and mistrust. When Jef is arrested for one of his assassinations, he relies on his girlfriend (Nathalie Delon) to get him off. But can she be trusted? Does she know that Jef actually did the murder?
The rest of the film comprises of two complicated cat-and-mouse games with Costello trying to outwit masterful police superintendent (Francois Perier) and also trying to get paid for the assassination.
What makes Le Samourai such an interesting watch is its use of color, subtlety and the amazing performance from Alain Delon. I loved how his whole apartment was painted with various shades of grey seeming to accent his unsettling life. And how Delon makes just a simple movement like putting on a hat and a trenchcoat and event.
The tapestry that is in this film is mesmerizing. The cinematography and the attention to detail.
There is a scene in the police precinct when Costello is being interrogated by the police inspector and it is probably the subtlest interrogation scene I have ever see. But it could also be the most effective I have ever seen. The scene involves Delon being placed in a lineup where he is questioned by the inspector while five witnesses examine him. Then when the inspector doesn’t get what hewants he has Delon stand in a room full of identically dressed men. Meanwhile to usually cold and unaffected Delon must try to keep himself restrained. The audience is nervous, Delon is nervous and the inspector is frustrated. It is quite a effective scene and a really interesting way of mixing it up for the audience.
I liked Le Samourai but I found that the film didn’t allow the main character to connect with the audience the way we needed. Yes he is a loner and assassin but there needed to be a connection so that we care for him and want for him to succeed. This connection was supposed to be by Alain Delon’s beautiful real-life wife Nathalie but I just never felt she was that key. I think if there was something raw there, passionate and revealing, we would have connected more. But that is French melo-drama!
3.5 out of 5
So Says the Soothsayer