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Le samouraï

Opens on July 5

Director: Jean-Pierre Melville Run Time: 101 min. Format: DCP Release Year: 1967 Language: French with English subtitles

Starring: Alain Delon, François Périer, Nathalie Delon

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Melville’s icy, pinpoint-precise masterwork about a taciturn contract killer dealing with the aftermath of a job gone awry offers the template for generations of similarly laconic thrillers such as Walter Hill’s The Driver, John Flynn’s Rolling Thunder and Jim Jarmusch’s The Limits of Control. But few of these descendants can match the dark void opened by Alain Delon’s steely anti-hero, a man of few words and even fewer distinguishing features beyond his trademark fedora and billowy overcoat. Melville makes the sad emptiness behind Delon’s eyes one of the main subjects of his film, while also transforming 1960s Paris into a labyrinth of anonymous rooms and hallways, each more shadowy and dilapidated than the last. The secretive, coded world established in Le samouraï is advanced through minimal dialogue but no shortage of tightly wound movement and tension; Melville’s shot sequencing suggests the influence of Robert Bresson and François de Roubaix’s sparsely deployed score hints at both the circularity of the plot and the inescapable fate to which Delon’s protagonist has resigned himself.

Text by Carson Lund.


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