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Le cercle rouge

(The Red Circle)
France/Italy 1970. Dir: Jean-Pierre Melville. 130 min. DCP

NEW RESTORATION! Melville reunited with his Le Samouraï leading man Alain Delon for this inimitable and impossibly cool heist-movie classic, the French director’s penultimate film. A love letter to John Huston’s 1950 noir standard The Asphalt Jungle, Melville’s Paris-set crime caper involves three damaged crooks — a thief (Delon), a fugitive (Gian Maria Volonté), and an ex-cop (Yves Montand) — who plot the elaborate heist of a haute jewelry shop in Place Vendôme. That legendary scene, a dialogue-free, thirty-minute masterpiece of ratcheting tension, clockwork precision, and exquisitely choreographed cinematography, has yielded oodles of onscreen robberies from its playbook. Melville DP Henri Decaë, who, along with Raoul Coutard, helped shape the look of the French New Wave, brings an icy, atmospheric visual cadence to the proceedings. “A classic of the clenched-fist, doom-laden world of noir” (Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune).

 

REVIEWS

"Jean-Pierre Melville's terrifically enjoyable noir classic looks even cooler with this reissue ... A treat."

The Guardian | full review

"Melville's special achievement was to relocate the American gangster film in France, and to incorporate his own steely poetic and philosophical obsessions."

Time Out | full review