Le Samouraï ★★★★

Le samouraï's thorough and entrancing style has obviously been hugely influential on generations of pulp filmmakers, including Michael Mann, Quentin Tarantino and, most recently, Nicholas Windig Refn (whose popular Drive reads like a stalker's love letter to Melville). But Melville adds a key component that most of his imitators miss: Jef's stony facade is only skin deep, barely maintained and increasingly see-through by the end. He's never depicted as a robotic angel of death; try as he might, he remains inescapably human, making the film as emotionally engaging as it aesthetically stunning.

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