The Red Circle
Le Cercle Rouge
review by Carrie
Gorringe, 20 June 2003
Seattle International Film Festival
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
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:
Gian Maria Volonté
Kin Yee Au
NR - Not Rated.
This film has not