Jean Pierre Melville – An Independent Spirit
Le Cercle Rouge PG (S)
Combining honourable antiheroes, coolly atmospheric cinematography, and breathtaking set pieces, Melville’s magisterial heist movie, which centres on the preparation, execution and aftermath of a daring and meticulously planned jewel-robbery, is a masterpiece of crime cinema.
Melville regular Alain Delon plays a master thief, fresh out of prison, who crosses paths with a notorious escapee (Gian Maria Volonté) and an alcoholic ex-cop (Yves Montand). But after the unlikely trio plot a jewel heist, against impossible odds, in the Place Vendômea, a relentless inspector and their own pasts converge to seal their fates.
A powerful, existential thriller about honour, fortune and fate, Le Cercle Rouge could be described as the ultimate Jean-Pierre Melville experience. With a terrific, and entirely silent, extended robbery sequence that tested the boundaries of narrative film; laconic, solitary characters, smoky after-hours locales and skilfully executed action sequences; Melville’s penultimate film serves as the perfect testament to everything associated with his singular vision and style.