Army of Shadows: The Films of Jean-Pierre Melville

Un flic

Jean-Pierre MelvilleFrance / Italy98 minutes197214AColourFrench

Sat
Aug 12
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Like Robert Bresson's final work L'Argent, Melville's last film offers an intensification of the director's style and vision. (Have a look at the nifty YouTube essay "Five Reasons to See or Re-see Un flic.") More inward than ever, Alain Delon is the flic of the terse title, police commissioner Edouard Coleman, who is intent upon capturing a gang of bank robbers whose larceny has turned lethal of late. (The heist sequence that opens the film is widely considered one of Melville's best.) Coleman reluctantly shares his girlfriend Cathy (Catherine Deneuve) with a smooth nightclub owner (Richard Crenna) whose camaraderie with the cop helps disguise his status as master criminal. (It's ironic that Michael Mann's Heat borrowed so much from this film, as its tone runs to much the opposite.) The arctic aloofness of Delon and Deneuve, their chilly personae matched by Melville's ice-blue images, exudes gelid elegance. Full of striking images of deserted streets and a foggy, off-season Riviera resort, Un flic ends with — what else? — a cold-blooded act of fatal betrayal.