As the plot is mainly about a flight throughout the United States from New York to New Orléans of the two main characters played bty Jean Paul Belmondo and production could not film on locations; the indoor scenes were shot in Melvilles's own studio in Paris with the addition of many rear projections for the scenes inside cars. See more »
One of Jean-Pierre Melville's least entertaining yet most interesting films
I'm only familiar with Melville's crime films, so this obscure effort came as a bit of a surprise. Even though there's a crime element to it, its mostly a road movie with existentialist underpinnings. Even if the film isn't completely successful, its thematically fascinating journey. In fact, its second only to "Le Samourai" as Melville's most interesting film. Its also rather similar to that later film, despite a seemingly completely different storyline. Off the bat, I noticed similarities between the minimalist style, the color schemes, and the stark undercurrent of helplessness throughout. The ending in particular is memorably nihilistic.
The direction by Melville is much more slowly paced than his more well known films, but that suits the meditative nature of the film perfectly. The acting by both Jean-Paul Belmondo and Charles Vanel is good as usual for both of them. The supporting cast is unfortunately not nearly as good, and this film suffers a bit. There's several surreal episodes that are dangerously bordering on camp (the confrontation with the sailors sticks out). However, this isn't nearly enough to detract from the films overall impact. Its a shame this is as overlooked as it is (only one other IMDb review as I write this), because its a really interesting film. With the recent revival of "Army of Shadows", maybe there's hope for this. (7/10)
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