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Max is a Paris detective, aloof, independently wealthy, and frustrated by gangs of robbers whom he cannot catch. To re-establish his stature and save face, he decides to inveigle a group of petty thieves (led by an old acquaintance) to rob a bank. A reluctant captain provides Max intelligence and Max starts spending evenings with Lilly, a prostitute who's the girlfriend of the group's leader. He poses as a rich banker with money to burn and encourages Lilly to think about her future. He hints at a payroll that comes through his bank. The plot works, the petty thieves think they're ready for a big score, and the cops are in place. What could go wrong with Max's cold plan? Who's entrapped? Written by
Claude Sautet made some of the finest pictures I have seen, over a period of three decades. If the script he is shooting is occasionally less than interesting, it remains that Sautet's talent is very great. He teamed with Romy Schneider on five films, helping her to shed the sex-doll image she had picked up through the Sixties.
Max is an obsessed, aging detective who sees life through blinkers. His colleagues humour him, although one gets the impression they would like to see him pensioned off. Lily the prostitute he falls for represents the one mistake in his life, if love may be called a mistake. Sautet gives Michel Piccoli and Romy Schneider plenty of room to develop their characters. There is one virtuoso sequence set in a junk yard in Nanterre, a run-down suburb of Paris: Rozinsky describes with no little humour the lives of some marginals, while Sautet's camera prowls around the site.
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