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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
My favorite writer, PKD, has written a short story adapted by my favorite director, SS, where police could arrest criminals before they commit the crime as they could guess it before hand (it's "minority report"). Here, it's even more diabolic: the police can arrest criminals before they commit because they know it will happen because it's the police that inspire the crime.
This Machiavelism is extremely well played by Piccoli as this crazy policeman. As the best brains in criminals, he builds his web with his colleagues and the poor bunch he has chosen for prey! The best is that his suggestion power is so amazing that he uses it indirectly, trough the girlfriend of the gang boss, played by our french Marilyn, that is to say Romy Schneider. Those two iconic actresses have really much in common: their talent, their fragility, their beauty and their tragic fate...
In addition, this movie has now 40 years and i'm amazed how life in France and Paris has changed (and you can Google map rue d'Argonne Paris to see it as well)
1) almost every big brand heard or seen in the movie has disappeared today ("suze", "crédit-lyonnais", "Byrrh", "prisunic"...)
2) this is the last years before computers and electronics and however, the people aren't cavemen, depressed or whatever bad: on contrary, they look more human
3) i can't explain this as i would be labeled as racist.
In addition of being a great thriller, this is also a wonderful love story, one of the kind that I like where the lovers are unable to tell the feeling. Those two stories run all along the movie and meet beautifully and dramatically in the climax.
In conclusion, a excellent innovative french thriller that has strangely escaped so far any American remake, even if this dark plot from security forces has emerged in books: read for example Forsyth's Avenger where the war on terror is played with the same rules: infiltrate cells and inspire them up to the point they can be stopped...
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