Le Samouraï

Le Samouraï ★★★★½

"Nothing to say?"
"Not with a gun on me."
"Is that a principle?"
"A habit."

Jean-Pierre Melvin's 'Le Samourai' is brazenly minimalist, substituting exposition with lingering shots and cold deliberation. It's a film about a cold professional killer, yet there are only two real action scenes in the movie. Even when Costello kills, the audience isn't presented with a man being shot, it's shown a gun being fired. The man being shot isn't important to Jef Costello, just the act of pulling the trigger.

Costello is one of the most powerful on-screen forces I've seen. Delon is utterly enchanting as Costello, and he is near-solely responsible for the spartan atmosphere this film exudes. That's not to downplay any other aspect of the movie, but rather pure praise towards Delon. Costello is a statue of a man, completing his objectives with cool competency, perfectly embodying the male power fantasy of being dark, mysterious, and capable.

His unwavering performance makes the few flashes of emotion almost jarring. When he embraces Jane before the finale, it's powerful, because we've yet to see him like this. When he is anxiously evading the police, it's gripping because we haven't seen him as anything other than collected.

I wholly recommend this to anyone and everyone. Costello is the mold for so many protagonists from the last 50 years, and it's a delight to see where it came from. What the film lacks in visual flourishes, it makes up for with palpable style, and is one the 'coolest' movies I've had the pleasure of watching.

Joe M liked this review