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Paris, 1942. Robert Klein cannot find any fault with the state of affairs in German-occupied France. He has a well-furnished flat, a mistress, and business is booming. Jews facing discrimination because of laws edicted by the French government are desperate to sell valuable works of art - and it is easy for him to get them at bargain prices. His cosy life is disrupted when he realizes that there is another Robert Klein in Paris - a Jew with a rather mysterious behaviour. Very soon, this homonymy attracts the close - and menacing - attention of the police on the established art trader. Written by
Eduardo Casais <firstname.lastname@example.org>
For many of those who have seen all of Joseph Losey's significant films, MR. KLEIN is the greatest after THE SERVANT. Some even call MR. KLEIN Losey's finest achievement. It's telling of our fragmented film culture that such an accomplished work of art remains unknown, even to many serious film buffs. For years, we had to settle for an English-dubbed, panned & scanned VHS tape. But the greatness of MR. KLEIN showed through even that medium.
Now the film is available on a high-quality DVD. The transfer is very fine, with the broad color palette ringing out. And the widescreen aspect of the film can be appreciated by many who have never seen it look so good.
MR. KLEIN is a work of which its director should have been proud. It's intelligent, intriguing, moving, funny, and beautiful. Like THE SERVANT, it has at its center an ambiguous hero by whom one is, at turns, repelled and attracted.
This may also be the greatest acting achievement of Alain Delon. The charismatic French actor's still-stunning good looks sometimes can distract from appreciating his genuine talent. Delon probably never gave a bad performance in any film. But MR. KLEIN provides him with a wide range and depth that he is more than capable of handling. It's mostly a quiet performance, with few outbursts. Delon is required to react, which he does brilliantly at several points, or to express the meaning of scene through posture and facial expression alone. One subtle example is the scene early on, where the mistress is on the bed in the background, wondering if she should get up. Delon is seated at his desk, half-listening to her trivialities. He has far more pressing issues on his mind. The actor perfectly conveys the ambivalent, trapped situation through small body gestures and tone of voice. When he finally rises to address the mistress's concerns, his forced tone is also exactly right for the moment. Later, Delon plays Klein's mixture of desperation and arrogance with so much conviction, it's easy to forget he is, after all, acting.
MR. KLEIN is a film of rich interiors, and eye-catching, but not ostentatious, location shooting. It looks tremendous on DVD and it can leave the viewer devastated, but undeniably impressed by the genius of Joseph Losey and Alain Delon.
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