The Red Circle
Le Cercle Rouge
review by Carrie Gorringe, 20 June 2003

Seattle International Film Festival 2003

Never let it be said that the characters in a Jean-Pierre Melville film ever lacked a sense of style.  Even in a state of impending ruination (as in his Bob le Flambeur), they handle things with such incomparable panache and a great appreciation of the ironies of life so as to transcend mere "coolness".  Filmmaker John Woo, no stranger himself to personal style, has provided filmgoers with a wonderful gift, having supervised the restoration of Melville's 1970 classic, Le Cercle Rouge (The Red Circle).  Based on a Bhuddist proverb which states that all men who are destined to meet will do so in the red circle (this arcane info.  is provided in introductory titles), the film really is about three men on the edges of society who are trying for one last score to improve their lot, or, in one case, to prove that he still has it.  A sophisticated thief (Alain Delon), an escaped convict (Gian Maria Volonte), and a dipsomaniacal ex-policeman (Yves Montand) find each other by – what else? – chance and conspire to knock over the Bucheron jewelry store in Paris – a heist that could net them over five million francs.  Meanwhile, they have to conquer the store's advanced security system and stay one step ahead of a vengeful crime boss.  Everything seems to be going their way, or is it?  To his credit, Melville keeps everything in the air until the last minute.  His sparse, yet elegantly-constructed, screenplay maintains an unrelenting sense of suspense from beginning to end.  The cinematography, by the legendary Henri Decaë (he shot Bob le Flambeur, as well as Truffaut's The 400 Blows)  is a textbook study in exquisiteness:  Decaë managed the almost superhuman feat of washing each frame in a cold grey tint, while somehow managing to render the deepest, most velvety black tones I've ever seen in a color film.  Do yourself a favor:  see this film in a theatre, or, at the very least, a large-screen TV.  Give it the setting it deserves.

Seattle International Film Festival:



Written and
Directed by:

Jean-Pierre Melville

Alain Delon
Gian Maria Volonté
Yves Montand
Paul Crauchet
Paul Amiot
Pierre Collet
André Ekyan
Jean-Pierre Posier
François Périer
Yves Arcanel
René Berthier
Jean-Marc Boris
Jean Champion
Yvan Chiffre

Written by:
Kin Yee Au
Nai-Hoi Yau

NR - Not Rated.
This film has not
been rated.






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