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Le doulos

(The Finger Man)
France 1962. Dir: Jean-Pierre Melville. 108 min. DCP

NEW RESTORATION! “Lie or die” is the hard-boiled credo observed by the duplicitous crooks of Melville’s sordid, predictably stylish 1962 thriller. Screen bruiser Jean-Paul Belmondo, in his second outing with Melville (after Léon Morin, Priest), is tough-guy Silien, a safe-cracker and could-be cop informant who’s lined up a robbery with a shady colleague just released from jail. When the job is botched and bodies start dropping, eyes — and barrels — turn to Silien as the assumed snitch. Melville’s moody, hyper-masculine Paris is modelled after the underworlds of American noir — all whiskey bars, street lights, trench coats, and cancer sticks. The corkscrew plot is derived from the eponymous Série noire novel by Pierre Lesou. Tarantino credits the film with influencing Reservoir Dogs. “Brutal and subtly brilliant ... Underscores why the French put the name to film noir” (Manohla Dargis, New York Times).

 

REVIEWS

"Brilliant ... A distinctive, ruminative take on tough-guy archetypes and genre conventions."

The Guardian | full review