Le samouraï The Criterion Collection
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In a career-defining performance, Alain Delon plays Jef Costello, a contract killer
with samurai instincts. After carrying out a flawlessly planned hit, Jef finds himself caught between a persistent police investigator and a ruthless employer, and not even his armor of fedora and trench coat can protect him. An elegantly stylized masterpiece of cool by maverick director Jean-Pierre Melville, Le samourai is a razor-sharp cocktail of 1940s American gangster cinema and 1960s French pop culture with a liberal dose of Japanese lone-warrior mythology.
BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
- New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
- Interviews with Rui Nogueira, editor of Melville on Melville, and Ginette Vincendeau, author of Jean-Pierre Melville: An American in Paris
- Archival interviews with Melville and actors Alain Delon, François Perier, Nathalie Delon, and Cathy Rosier
- Melville-Delon: D'Honneur et de nuit (2011), a short documentary exploring the friendship between the director and the actor and their iconic collaboration on this film
- Trailer - PLUS: An essay by film scholar David Thomson, an appreciation by filmmaker John Woo, and excerpts from Melville on Melville
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The story of this film is simple but the themes, characters and imagery are anything but. Costello is a compelling protagonist as he does not kill for revenge, pleasure or even money as he lives in a run down tenement. It seems like his religious commitment to the samurai code and lifestyle is the only possible purpose that keeps him going. The story-line between him and Valerie is also a wonderful development; can he develop feelings for anyone, perhaps this kind-hearted woman he has at least reciprocated deeds with? The answer is brilliantly not revealed until the very end. Delon deserves acclaim for his performance. His character does not have many lines but his body language and occasional gestures give clues and insights to his personality and intentions. Rosier and Périer provide great supporting performances as well. I also love the little touches in the film that Melville weaves into "Le Samourai" such as a character's minor decision involving a ticket that portends his fate.
This film's sights are almost as captivating as the story as it unfolds. The city of Paris is shown in glory and in caliginosity, and it becomes a fascinating "co-star" throughout the entirety of the film. With expert cinemotography featuring sepia and dark gris colors as well as rainy weather, this film is really a hybrid of black and white film noir and colorful neo-noir. Jean Pierre Melville uses excellent direction, pacing and shots to piece together a raveling tale of modernism, isolation and possible redemption from amorality. Nathalie Delon (Alain Delon's then-wife) does well in the role of a woman Costello often pays to be an alibi, which leads to a few interesting scenes in a sub-plot of investigator Périer attempting to solicit information from her. François De Roubaix also deserves much credit for his brilliant music which provides a haunting eerie tune at times, excitement at others and even French folk music which adds an even more powerful ambiance for viewers of this film. I recommend the Le Samourai soundtrack.
This is one of the most fascinating films I have ever seen and a masterpiece of noir cinema.
This film is recommended without hesitation...........do not buy these reviews that the film is boring.....A great double feature is to watch This Gun for Hire and LeSamourai in the same evening..........it is seventh heaven for noir fans.