Wednesday, July 14, 2010

LE CERCLE ROUGE (French) (1970)

Among French New Wave cinema’s many auteurs, Jean-Pierre Melville stands as distinct case who continue making some of the classic film noires with touch of his own. Undoubtedly he’s French Master of film noires. His heroes are solitary outsiders of society having equal amount of enigmatic personality and stylish charm of their own.His accurate attention to place, objects, and character spoke much through camera than anything else; this is his signature style.

We come to witness two criminal stories running parallel and yet in separate ways as film opens. A professional and just released criminal from prison meets a run away fugitive by fate in a strange and interesting manner. One is professional, the other is amateur. They get another professional aimer to kick an offered big task. And next thing we witness is- the brilliant and breathtaking jewel heist ever filmed with such a meticulous and minute detail. But hey wait…I forget to tell you that there’s one more professional involved too; this time a smart cop who knows how to manipulate one criminal to catch his target prey. The cop’s acute professionalism shows us fine investigation and surveillance reminding me Fritz Lang’s classic ‘M’.

One can apply as many adjectives as one prefers to French screen legend Alain Delon. He is methodical, mythical, macho, sexy, suave, attitudinal, cool etc. etc. Delon has immortal charm of his own unmatchable as his French contemporary Belmondo. Delon is as legendary to French cinema as James Dean is to American cinema. Both had exquisite pair of eyes. Watch his chiseled screen presence in Melville’s another brilliant- ‘Le Samourai’. There’s almost fine performances by all actors including Yves Montand.

Melville had brilliant camera sense and his stalwart cinematographer Henri Decae knew very well what to reveal and what to hide in his vibrant colorful frames which makes his films slow but compelling watch. The stylish and arresting use of long focused shots, extreme close ups or capturing two different things from single angle became inspirational for many big directors ranging from Leone to Coppola and John Woo to Tanrantino. The essence of Melville films lies in its style and beauty; very rarely a filmmaker can make such an aesthetic crime film excluding gory violence of any sorts.

This is my third Melville film after ‘Le Samourai’ and ‘Army of Shadows’ and I wish I can explore more and more of him…so desperate to catch his early classic ‘Bob the Gambler’.

Own the DVD.


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