Jean Pierre Melville – An Independent Spirit
Un Flic 12A (S)
Melville’s final film was a potent cat-and-mouse tale of thieves, informants, cops and mistresses - a bracingly pessimistic masterpiece of film noir and a hypnotic summation and final testament of the director’s signature style and vision.
Moody vice cop Edouard Coleman (Alain Delon) is intent upon capturing a gang of bank robbers whose larceny of late has turned lethal. Tangled in a love triangle with his less-than-scrupulous acquaintance Simon (Richard Crenna) and the alluring Cathy (Catherine Deneuve), Coleman is drawn deeper and deeper into the Parisian underworld – a place where for all its ambiguities, one thing is clear - life in the shadows will likely end in tragedy.
Wrought with heists, tension, and dark motives - including one of the great sequences of the director’s career; the near wordless, rain-sodden and brilliantly atmospheric seaside heist that opens the film - Melville’s laconic meditation on the legal, moral, and sexual ambiguity between the police and criminals brilliantly captured the shadowy side of Paris and the corrupt facet of its underbelly. Less than a year after the film’s completion, Melville would be dead from a heart attack at the age of just 55. But with Un Flic, and a career including some of the most crucial films in French cinema history, Melville would accomplish what he himself uttered in his cameo in Jean-Luc Godard’s À Bout de Souffle – “To become Imortal.. and then die.’