Le Samouraï

Le Samouraï ★★★★½

SUMMER 2017 CRITERION CHALLENGE: FILM #41

"Why, Jef?"
"I was paid to."

I wasn't feeling it at first.

And then the score kicked in.

A fierce amalgamation of French New Wave and savvy samurai sensibilities, Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Samouraï chronicles the exploits of its protagonist, a precisely tactical loner hitman who comes under pressure after becoming the focus of a police investigation into one of his most recent hits. Alain Delon impressively plays our lead character, Jef Costello, with an undeniable suaveness and subdued vulnerability. His seemingly cold and ruthless nature gradually transforms into a genuine source of sympathy for the audience who root for the character through his increasingly tense plight all the way until the bitter end. It's a well-paced, elegant, and excessively badass story, powered by a catchy-as-hell musical theme and expertly crafted by Melville's skillful directorial efforts and terse, efficient script. It's no wonder why this charming little flick went on to have an obvious influence on the likes of Thief, Drive, and so many more, and holds a stature as perhaps one of the earliest examples of a neo-noir thriller in film. Le Samouraï is essential global-cinema viewing, especially for those like myself who instantly fall for this type of movie.

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