Le Samouraï

Le Samouraï ★★★½

Within a post film-noir era, and before the rise of the neo-noir sub genre, Jean Pierre Melville created Le Samouraï, highly regarded today as one of the great foreign masterpieces. Exciting, a visual spectacle and a film that is most surprisingly suave, Melville is able to to immerse his audience into his classic solely on the mystery of the protagonist and the absorbing cinematography, both of which are presented within the film's spectacular opening minutes.

Hitman Jef Costello is a perfectionist who never fails to complete each of his tasks to perfection. However, when he must dispose of a nightclub owner, he leaves behind a few too many clues that allows the police to suspect Costello may be behind the murder.

Both a police procedural and a suave crime caper, which resembles the celebrated French Wave classic, Breathless, in terms of its cool nature, Le Samouraï is continuously engaging, as the film features an effective narrative that constantly switches between its gripping, albeit slightly slow police procedural, and the intriguing tale of the mysterious Jef Costello.

Into a character who is too obscure for any clear analysis or interpretation, Alain Delon provides a truly remarkable performance that compels the viewer to discover the essence of the film's main character. Mysterious, neatly dressed in a light grey-ish coat and hat, the film's brilliance lies with the complete mystery of Costello. Nothing is discovered about him and the ending leaves the character a further mystery. It is a mystery that allows for additional viewings, that may assist in tackling the psyche of the character. In many ways, Delon provides an almost infamous persona to Costello, that makes the image of Costello in his trademark coat and hat iconic to cinema.

Though there are slow patches, particularly in the middle half, the film is undeniable fantastic and features a riveting police procedural sequence in the third act, as Le Samouraï develops its celebrated rythm of suspense. Melville's classic has certainly endured the decades and remains one of the great noir films. Suspenseful, mysterious and classy, these are the words that perhaps best describe and explain Le Samouraï's iconic status in cinema today.