Interesting premise and poor development in this mediocre crime movie
Robert Enrico was an average director who happened to direct good scripts with a strong cast (Les Aventuriers, Le Vieux Fusil), and wonderful scores by his friend François de Roubaix too.
Ho! has an interesting premise: a loser-driver wants to prove to his bosses he can be a real elegant/tough/mastermind gangster. The exposition at the beginning of the movie is quite good then, but they added a flashback before that to tell the backstory of "5 years before" which is cheap and useless.
The main problem is the script doesn't build a consistent character arc. Belmondo is a good low-profile dummy in the beginning, then he rapidly switches to an enterprising 'Bébel' quite sure and full of himself. This simply doesn't work: it is a major directorial failure. The love affair with a top model (Johanna Shimkus) doesn't help to stir Ho away from Belmondo's stock light-hearted philanderer. Then again the script doesn't rise above routine crime situations. In the end you've got an awkward character (the irritatingly comical bébel of Tendre Voyou) in a poor film noir story. The screenwriters here could have learnt a bit from Dumas' Count of Monte Cristo, and how to credibly grow your hero from a naive young man into a relentless adult.
I am no fan of Drive and I must say it was disheartening to see so many people love it, but yes, Ryan Gosling's character was more consistent (yet blandly so), the love interest fitted the character's arc instead of bugging the narration and there was a real fatalistic storyline. Plus the director had style (too much IMO) whereas style is limited to Mr Belmondo's ties and suits in Ho!
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