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Le Samouraï Review


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When I was a little child with red cheeks and a head of curls, I wanted to grow up to be a hitman. Fireman? You couldn't pay me enough and I seriously could never grow a mustache that big. Doctor? I can find plenty of work not involving holding a man's genitals and asking him to cough, please. Nope, give me that mystery and the danger of the stone-faced hitman, where the only real needs of the job are not getting caught, handle a gun and kill the mark. One wonders if Jeff Costello had any dreams of becoming anything else besides a hitman dressed like Humphrey Bogart.

Jeff (Alain Delon) is the main character in Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Samouraï, a nuanced, surprising crime film from the days of the French New Wave. The film takes a minimalist look at a hitman's doomed existence, following Jeff through a hit and the unexpected outcomes of that action. He is picked up and questioned by an uncompromising police inspector (Francois Périer) and is let go after exasperating tests and questioning. The only witness to his crime is the piano player, Valerie (Caty Rosier), who denies seeing him at the club at all. Jeff doesn't squeal, but his employer sets a price on his head which is almost carried out, but not to full expectations. He offers Jeff another hit worth $2 million. Carrying out this hit ignites a strange but enthralling chase scene and ultimately leads him to his doom.

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