|Index||9 reviews in total|
Excellent crime drama, beautifully underplayed by Michel Piccoli and Romy Schneider. Good story with a beginning, a middle and a surprise ending. You'll think about this film for days afterwards and want to see it again. If you love movies, you'll love this one. It will make you want to see more of Claude Sautet's work. [I have not as yet].
Few people know it,but Claude Sautet was first a film noir
connoisseur.His first work,"classes tout risques" was beating Jean
-Pierre Melville at his own game;the follow-up ,"l'arme à gauche" ,is
difficult to see nowadays ,but if you can ,do not think twice.
In the seventies,from "les choses de la vie" onwards,Sautet became the cinema de qualité director .I mean it pejoratively.Whereas "les choses de la vie" remains watchable today ,thanks to a sensational editing,the other works such as "Cesar et Rosalie " "Vincent François Paul et les autres" "Mado" are depicting a bourgeois life ,speaking of people "in danger of despair"(Sautet Dixit) but with an optimism that was almost unbearable in the crisis of the seventies.The screenplays became very loose,without any dramatic progression .You can sum up "Cesar et Rosalie" like this :"Rosalie loves Cesar ,but she also loves David.What will become of her ?":everything taking place in desirable mansions ,what a contemporary critic aptly called " un espace Cardin" This is two-bit psychological drama ,with ponderous symbolism,as "Mado" will confirm with its infuriating scene where the cars get boggeddown in the mud .a critic said then "it's the movie that gets bogged down itself.
"Max et les ferrailleurs " is a different matter;by combining the film noir side of the two first opus with what will be developed (in a very gauche way) in the "psychological" future films ,Sautet brings it all back home.It stands out as his most sustained piece of work in the seventies.An absolutely intriguing work,with a beautiful Romy Schneider who keeps the audience waiting,only appearing after 30 minutes.Her relationship with cop Piccoli is very shady,sometimes recalling the Fonda/Sutherland one in Pakula's "Klute" :it really stands comparison with it.A wonderful depiction of a popular milieu,in the suburbs of Paris (Nanterre) ,where the secondary characters seem to be out of a Duvivier or a Clouzot work.But it's finally the Jacques Becker spirit Sautet captures here ,and it's really too bad that,after such an interesting movie,he fell into the trap of the academic cinema de qualité.
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...
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Max is a former judge who became a cop after he had to turn loose
criminals (due to a lack of evidence) of whom he knew that they
committed the crime. He is obsessed with catching criminals red-handed.
He also wants recognition or a promotion or something (don't remember)
so he decides to trick some petty thieves led by an old friend of him
into robbing a bank so he can catch them (weird understanding of
justice). He tricks them by starting a relationship with his old
friend's girlfriend Lilly who works as a prostitute. He poses as a rich
banker and encourages Lilly to think about her future. He hints at a
payroll that comes through his bank and knows that she would go to her
boyfriend saying that she doesn't want to go on like that and talk him
into robbing the bank. The plot works, the petty thieves decide to rob
the bank and as they do the cops are in place.
While this movie is a crime movie -parts of it are almost like a heist movie- it also has an almost philosophical touch to it and can easily be categorized as a drama. The development of the characters is good and the movie is always interesting.
However, since one knows in advance what is going to happen, one expects a giant twist. Of course this movie is out of the pre-Se7en/pre-Usual Suspects era, but still the ending is disappointing: Max is told by his boss (who knows that he set up the criminals) that another detective (who also knows) is going to not only charge those you actually robbed the bank but Lilly also. Max has fallen in love with Lilly who also has feeling for Max. Max goes to talk to the detective and because he would not change his mind, he shoots him. This is unrealistic as Max has had time to think what he was going to do if he cannot convince the detective. However the movie implies that his decision is a spontaneous reaction to the detective's reluctance. Shooting him might solve part of the problem since no one else (besides the boss and he wouldn't tell) knows that Lilly was involved (even though there might be files or colleagues could know). But Max now has to face life in jail.
That's what I think he (as a former judge) should have come up with: (I'm not an expert on French law (the movie is set in Paris) but I assume that entrapment is illegal in every democratic country.) Max could have just said that he entrapped them to rob the bank. That he not just hoped that they would come up with the idea of robbing that bank but that he actually told them to do so. You cannot be convicted for a crime that you would not have committed if the police had not entrapped you (at least in America). Lilly (and the criminals) would go free and he had to face some kind of punishment but not life in jail.
"Max et les ferrailleurs" is a movie with an interesting idea and good performances and it is certainly an above average film.
*** 6.5/10 ***
Undeservedly neglected, 'Max et les ferrailleurs' is one of the most
intelligent, splendidly acted and carefully crafted French crime flicks
of the 70's. However, cataloguing it as just another 'crime flick'
would be sacrilegious, as it has to offer much more to the patient
Claude Sautet, from what I have gathered, is known for his dealing with the bourgeoisie's turmoils, often depicting complex social dramas in his films. Prior to watching 'Max et les ferrailleurs', I had only seen another great film he made with Michel Piccoli - Les Choses de la Vie, which is indeed quite different from 'Max'. The subjects and genres might differ, yet Sautet ingeniously manages to create intriguing character studies (as both films have fascinating protagonists) and, while at that, to depict perplexing and powerful love stories, which help shape the protagonists' moral portraits.
I won't insist on the plot; suffice to say that the film does not get dull at any time and it also does not fall into a standard, clichéd policier. Max, the protagonist, could be compared to Melville's Le Samourai, insofar as both are cold, meticulous, obsessive and enigmatic. The baddies - the 'junkmen'- are also well individualized, and here I should point out the excellent scene where policeman Rosinsky talks about each of them. Last but not least, there's also the divine Romy Schneider: between us, I wasn't able to take my eyes off her whenever she was in front of the camera.
One more aspect that amazed me about the film was the fluent and elegant camera-work, which had an immense impact on creating the film's atmosphere. Although I'm not by any means technical literate, the composition of the shots struck me as carefully planned and the lightning was spot-on.
In a nutshell, 'Max et les ferrailleurs' is more than you'd be inclined to think: it's gritty and elegant at the same time, it's brutal and sensual, it's a thrilling crime movie and a complex character study, in short it is what a good film must be. Don't miss it!
This is a very well acted and directed police story about a French detective investigating a gang of thieves which is headed by an old friend of his. What begins as a cynical film about violence and prostitution turns into a tender love story.
Max (Michel Piccoli) was once a judge but resigned, frustrated by
letting guilty perps go due to lack of evidence. He joins the Paris
Police Force and becomes a detective. Same thing happens - he can't
arrest guilty mobsters for the same reason. As this obsession begins to
consume him, he devises a plan, which amounts to a sting operation. He
hopes this will restore some respect for truth, justice and the French
He befriends a prostitute who is also the girlfriend of a small time hood, who was once a childhood friend. Complications arise (you knew that, didn't you?), as the girl is attractive and comes with a heart. Max is stoic as well as obsessed and tries hard not to let sentiment interfere with his plan.
The film's pacing is uneven and involves a great deal of table-setting, so the film takes a while to get going. All the action takes place in the last 20 minutes - be ready to check your watch several times. But the ending is worth the wait, and that's as far as I can go without giving it away. Piccoli gives a thoughtful performance as a man driven by his conception of justice. He is tall and lean and is a commanding presence throughout. Romy Schneider as the bimbo gives what must be her best performance after years of fluff and junk.
This was apparently the film's US premiere as it was not shown here in its initial release. It played at Lincoln Center, NYC, 8/12.
I went to see this movie today in NEW YORK is going to be show for one week only and for the first time is show in USA, the movie is very good with a great end but what make this movie good is ROMY SCHNEIDER 1938-1982 when she came out in the screen ,she play a prostitute named lily, the question i ask myself was how come somebody can be so beautiful so perfect i have not word to described this woman and beside her talent she was so good in her part i love this movie, ROMY IN REAL LIFE WAS NEVER HAPPY SHE HAVE A5 YEARS LOVE AFFAIR WITH ALAIN DELON AND AFTER THAT SHE MARRIED THE FATHER OF HER LATE SON David EVENTUALLY SHE DIVORCED HIM AND MARRIED DANIEL BIASINI THE FATHER OF HER DAUGHTER SARAH
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