Jean-Louis Trintignant plays a French contract assassin hired by a Los Angeles crime family, ostensibly to perform a hit on some other mafia target. But simultaneously, as he arrives to do ... See full summary »
Jean-Louis Trintignant plays a French contract assassin hired by a Los Angeles crime family, ostensibly to perform a hit on some other mafia target. But simultaneously, as he arrives to do his job, a slaying occurs inside the household of the mob boss supposed to employ him. Suspicion is deliberately cast against Trintignant from within that very family. When he tries to flee the country, he discovers that his passport and luggage have been stolen. From that moment on, Trintignant is on the run from the police and the minions of two different mob families. What makes his escape hazardous is that the real murderer shares all the information known about him to aid in his capture and death. Written by
After reading the comments here I decided to go see this movie when it played at a revival house. Now that I have seen as much of "The Outside Man" as I could stomach, I'm baffled by these other responses.
What some film buffs will accept in the name of nostalgia for a "Lost LA" knows no bounds. If this movie were set in some other place, no one would ever give it his/her time. It is shot like a TV movie (I'm not entirely convinced that it was *not* a TV movie, given the number of TV actors who appear). It is very, very poorly written, acted, and directed. Shoddy, even. The dialogue is stiff, but not even stiff in a clipped, noirish way, or in a way that could provide camp value. The actors are so wooden that they often wait an extra beat and glance off camera before delivering their responses to one another. The editing is absurd.
The film boils down to a series of vignettes involving our alienated French hit-man encountering and negotiating "LA scenes"--the boring housewife, the biker gang, the jesus-freak, the 'tough' blonde hooker, etc. None of these scenes connects with any other in any significant way. They're all just slices of life in 'gritty' LA, but shot in such a fake way that there is nothing whatsoever of 'the real' about them.
Of course, I'm not really qualified to speak about the movie as a whole, because I walked out. I have now walked out of a grand total of 3 movies in my life. I felt so liberated when I left, though, that it almost made watching the first half an hour or 45 minutes worth it.
Perhaps for many people the nostalgia factor overrides these critiques. I understand nostalgia for old LA, too, but for a city that was in fact entirely different than the LA of today (such as the one portrayed in "Mildred Pierce," say). This movie, however, focuses on LA as a hip, modern city, with rivers of freeways and 6-lane boulevards swamped with traffic. How different this is from today's LA is unclear to me. Sure, one can look at this film and say, "Gee, I remember when that club was still open," or "Oh, I loved that old pier." But these feelings run entirely counter to what this film says about LA: that it doesn't care about people's sentimental attachments to particular places and things, so get out of the way or become part of the pavement.
Let's face it, post-1950 or so, LA became a city defined by rapid change, of plowing under the old so the young citizens of today can make their mark. (Of course, pockets of 'old LA' still remain, and always will; not everything can get plowed under as efficiently as late capitalism would like.) This notion of change defines LA. However, some people cling to nostalgia for a particular era, even if it runs counter to what LA was 30 years ago and is today. This is a typical American set of actions and sentiments: destroy what is in order to bring on something new; glorify this destruction and change while it's happening; regret that we have brought about this change once it has been effected; build monuments to that which we have destroyed; lovingly remember that which has passed because it seems to come from a more innocent time; rebuke ourselves for ever thinking that we should have destroyed what was; repeat.
I swear, in a few years people are going to be saying things like, "I really miss that pocked old parking lot that surrounded the Cinerama Dome."
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