As Cool As A Fruitstand

…and maybe as strange. A movie blog.

Le Samouraï

Posted by Hedwig on November 26, 2008

Alain Delon is a beautiful man. I might have mentioned this before, I know, but still. Beautiful. And still. His face remains largely emotionless in Le Samouraï, just like in the other Melville film I recently saw him in, Le Cercle Rouge. He’s even more of a cypher here, a quiet man exuding a weird sort of melancholy. But because of his beauty, you keep watching. You can’t imagine something nasty beneath that perfect shell, and that’s what makes you follow his character, follow him along without judgment even as he murders. And whereas in Plein Soleil there were plenty of excuses to be made for him, here he kills so calmly, and with such careful preparation, that’s impossible to defend his actions.


Why, then, when he gets betrayed, why do we kind of root for him? Or well, rooting for him might not be the right expression. We go along with him, lulled by Melville’s tranquil, unsensational, poetic images into following him wherever he goes. The ending surprises, but it doesn’t really shock: how would we ever be able to leave if we could still follow the Samouraï further?

What I love about the two Meville’s I’ve seen so far most is the attention for process. The attention for details, and how he presents robbery or murder as a task performed carefully by skilled professionals. Without bravado, without showing off: just a job to be done. The policemen with whom he plays his game of cat and mouse have the same atitude: they just don’t seem as to be as skilled. 

Maybe I’m a little effusive. The circumstances helped: I saw this with the hungry inch and two of his friends in a kraakpand in Amsterdam. It took us 2 hours to get there, much of it spent waiting around in the cold and the snow, which put me in exactly the right contemplative mood. The three guys didn’t like it as much as I did. “Not as good as that elevator one”, the BF said, and I was so proud: two Nouvelle Vague classics in one weekend and he still likes me. 

I feel like walking the streets of Paris in the rain, or better yet: in the now. Wearing a raincoat and a fedora. Unfortunately, I’ll never be as beautiful as Delon.


(sorry for the free-associating flow of this post. I’m trying to break my writer’s block, and I told myself I had to write something, anything.)


4 Responses to “Le Samouraï”

  1. Sam Juliano said

    Yes indeed Hedwig, the details and the meticulous plotting are evident in both of the stellar Melville films you have seen. That’s a good point you make there about the protagonists just wanting to get a job done. They aren’t looking for fame or bravado, just to successfully pull something off. Youve had snow already this season, Hedwig? Wow, it’s early for that.

    What could I say about Mr. Delon that you haven’t said?

    That raincoat and fedora are iconic.

  2. Daniel said

    Wow, I have not seen this (unfortunately), but I can agree – that is a beautiful-looking man, if there is such a thing.

  3. Terrific piece about one of my all-time favorite films, Hedwig. This is one of those films I could watch once a month for the rest of my life. It’s just so impeccably formed by Melville.

  4. sarcastig said

    Thank you all 🙂 And I agree with Alexander: this is a very well-formed film, that draws you in from the first long shot.

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