****/**** Image A Sound A Extras B
starring Alain Delon, François Périer, Nathalie Delon, Michel Boisrond
written and directed by Jean-Pierre Melville
by Walter Chaw Jef (Alain Delon) is an assassin, and while he's objectively terrible at it, he seems to be sought-after for his services. Maybe there's a shortage of killers; maybe he lives in that bubble where handsome people exist without knowledge of the advantages they're given for the fact of their attractiveness. Hired to assassinate some guy who owns a nightclub in Paris, Jef steals a car by trying out a lot of keys on this giant key ring he has and goes to the club to do just that. Everyone sees him: the guests, the bartender, and most notably the club's unnamed, featured chanteuse (Caty Rosier), who catches him walking out of her boss's office after hearing gunshots. Jef pauses when he sees her, and for a second you wonder if he's going to kill her to eliminate any witnesses. I mean, that's what a hardened criminal would do--but he doesn't. It's not that Jef isn't smart, exactly, it's that Jef is a cipher, and Le samouraï is less noir than it is a commentary on American genre films and, along the way, a satire of them, too. Jef's affect is blank and pretty, perfectly turned-out in his neat suit and overcoat, a fedora perched on his head just so. Melville spends a lot of time watching Jef look at himself in the mirror, fiddling with his collar and smoothing down the crease in his pants. Not unlike a Robert Bresson film, Le samouraï is obsessed with gestures. It's a story told by hands at rest and in motion.