Wednesday, April 24, 2013


A criminal’s escapade with a family and a friend begins at railway station of Italy followed by exchange of cars on road and ended on boat ride. As soon as landing on French shore he lost both his wife and a friend in sudden and unexpected shootout witnessed by his two kids to look after in time absolutely unfavorable. If you think this is the gist of the film plot, then let me tell you it’s not. This is just first half an hour of this edge on seat French noir where escape plan continues to shift the directions throughout the film. The film is double surprise for me, the first one is how being a hard core noir fan, the film like this remain unwatched for so long and the second after watching some of the poetic and sublime films of Sautet’s middle career this thrilling masterpiece seems a complete rocking treat.

Unlike those American noirs, it’s almost shot in full bright sunny light and portraying quite a rarity of gangster protagonist’s life. Here is a middle age mobster Abel Davis, who lost his wife and a close friend witnessed by his kids and trying to be a concerning father who tackles and handles both kids to protect from his unfavorable destiny. It’s time for him to face the intrinsic ugly truth of dirty crime business. When the time is bad, nobody wanted to gets their hand dirty. And so those who’re once remained close associate and partners in crime for him became too cautious to involve directly saving Abel and his two kids. He considers it better to rely on a strange driver than his close amigos. With gripping beginning, well nourished middle and the climax that suits tailor-made for finest noir, the film is surely one of the finest French noirs ever made.  

Sautet managed to create a brilliant pace with full control of narrative rhythm and tight structure with classic chiseled B&W camera work. But what’s highlight of the film is its two commendable performances. In absolutely stunning old school criminal’s code, Lino Ventura is the man to watch here. He brought a gangster who’s smart, cool, suave and yet uncontrollably desperate and a helpless gangster who finally realized that time is up for him with enough sacrifice on toll. And he’s having the company of  Breathless fresh Belmondo, the pin up boy of French New Wave.

An absolutely worthy to watch masterpiece of French Crime wave.

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