A couple of coalminers take a weekend break in Amsterdam and hook up with some temperamental hookers.
A remarkable film in several ways. First, for the detailed coal mining scenes which take up the first half hour. We follow the first day of a new Italian recruit Bernard Fresson in a Mamburg mine. This is pretty eye-opening, especially now that coal mining is a thing of the past. They're wedged into crevices hacking into the stuff with hand-drills. Even in this inhuman environment the director very effectively manages to convey the good-natured stoicism of a number of characters.
It's an Italo-French production that chooses not to be particularly either, but takes an alienated position with people of different nationalities all having a hard time communicating with each other. The amount of stilted communication is remarkable in itself, giving the film a hesitant, uncertain tone that matches Fresson's diffident personality. In looks, Fresson is exactly half-way between Belmondo and Trintignant, and is as good as either of them.
His friend, mine foreman Lino Ventura - all mouth and trousers - takes him to Amsterdam to pick out a girl from their window displays. Uncertain semi-relationships develop, and awkward semi-comedic situations - or completely comedic, such as when Ventura goes into a gay bar by mistake.
Emmer is an absolute master at infusing every scene with quaint human dynamics loaded with sentimental meaning in a manner at once stylish and artless. They should be making documentaries about him, rather than self-publicising pretenders such as Truffaut.
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