Justin Peterson’s review published on Letterboxd:
Criterion Collection Spine #306
(Foreign language film)
A cool and calculated assassin is put the ultimate test when the line between his allies and the authorities begins to blur.
I completely agree that Le Samouraï is a very stylish landmark film in the crime noir genre, but its simplistic story and very methodical pacing kept me from ever getting fully invested in it.
Despite the main character Jef Costello being a meticulous hitman, I never really got a samurai vibe from. Most of the time he has this completely blank face that made him seem more like a mannequin than is killer for hire. I did like that cool touch Director Jean‑Pierre Melville put in with Jef always looking in the mirror to adjust his hat before he goes out. Also I liked the metaphor he includes, with how the caged bird in his apartment is symbolic of how trapped Jef must feel with the police closing in on him.
While Jef is blanked face for most of the movie, I liked how toward the end his stress level was much more visible with how he is panicking to find the right key for the last car he is uses, and when he evades the police on the subway. It kind of bugs me that story only featured one contract kill, and rest is just the aftermath that he deals with because of how sloppy he was in taking out this one victim. We then never get a good sense of why the people that hired him are so flaky. Or the full picture of everything involved with Jef deciding to sacrifice himself at the end, by not killing the woman who refused to identify him to the authorities.
Overall I thought Le Samouraï was an ok crime movie, but I think prefer movies it inspired like 'Ghost Dog Way of the Samurai', more than the original source material.
Thanks for reading!
Happy movie watching.... SKOL!