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A drug dealer with upscale clientele is having moral problems going about his daily deliveries. A reformed addict, he has never gotten over the wife that left him, and the couple that use him for deliveries worry about his mental well-being and his effectiveness at his job. Meanwhile someone is killing women in apparently drug-related incidents. Written by
Ed Sutton <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Paul Schrader's finest film to date, and firmly lodged in my top 10, this is a surprisingly overlooked and underrated gem. Often touted as a "modern noir" movie, I really don't consider it in that genre at all.
The heart of the film is a reworking of the themes embodied in Schrader's earlier film "American Gigolo", where a man is forced to confront the fact that the life he is leading is fundamentally unsatisfying, reassess what he wants to do, find out who his real friends are and ultimately get redeemed through love.
Willem Dafoe's character Le Tour's journey is a slow but inevitable one, as his drug-dealing days are numbered due to his boss Susan Sarandon (also splendid) "going straight". Most of the scenes take place at night (hence the noir tag), but this is partly a consequence of the drug-dealing aspect and partly to capture the unreal mood of a man who doesn't know where he fits in to "normal" life. The device whereby Le Tour spends many hours writing his thoughts in an exercise book, throwing it away when he fills it, then starting another one, is so strong and startling that I put aside my usual dislike of narration. The soundtrack is also excellent and fits and expands the mood very well.
The best scene is probably the one in the hospital cafeteria, where Le Tour has a conversation with his ex-girlfriend that he hasn't seen for a long time - immaculately acted, tremendously understated with so many things going unsaid... The final scene, although Schrader nicked it from a French film, and used it before in "Gigolo", is still very powerful, based on the idea that whether a man is in prison or not is completely unrelated to whether he is free.
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