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This, one of the premier ambience films of the genre, appears at the end of the sixties cycle of spy films. It is a serious, even dour film that focuses equally on both sides of the espionage fence with sympathies for neither. Here, spying is a business but it is not without its emotions, albeit suppressed and discarded as required, and death is almost always a matter of honor. When death is unexpected it is also unfair, a matter of happenstance that triggers far reaching consequences.
The plot consists of good guys and bad guys trying to out maneuver each other while both are after Stephane Audran. The complexities of the film extend beyond plotting. The `good' guys in the film are hardly more than cyphers; they play the espionage odds, sometimes winning, sometimes losing, without developing traits one would associate with human character. The `bad' guys on the other hand, are well rounded people that suffer and consider but do their jobs anyway.
Suicide, the controlled death, plays a large part in the film. It is a means of conquering enemies, expressing love, admitting defeat. It's those that live on in their confusion and misery that we must pity. This fine mood piece is complimented by a melancholy score by Francois de Roubaix which captures the ennui without bringing too much attention to itself.
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