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The first thing to bear in mind is that Giovanni's novel "les aventuriers" spawned TWO movies :the first one was the eponymous (and excellent) Robert Enrico's movie.As the latter did not transfer the last part of the novel,Jose Giovanni decided to adapt it and to make it his first effort ever.Giovanni's career had brilliantly begun with Jacques Becker's sensational "le trou" the screenplay of which he wrote.And as Michel Constantin was part of the Becker's cast(it's arguably his best part),it was only natural that they teamed up again .
This is probably what happens to Lino Ventura's character,the "survivor" of "les aventuriers".But it's not really a sequel.Actually Giovanni completely ignores Enrico's film and did the right thing to do: a completely different movie.People who know Giovanni's most commercial works of the seventies might be taken aback by this incredible intellectual thriller.It is essentially a wandering through the splendid landscapes of Corsica .The pace is very slow .The duel lasts about ten minutes.
Giovanni's lucky break was to cast Alexandra Stewart as the heroine.She has everything :beauty,sensitiveness and above all mystery. All the movie revolves around her and the audience is most of the time completely lost.Why?What ? When?Who? Until the very last minutes we're still wondering why.And scenes that seem irrelevant (close shots of her face full of fear in the strange house where she prostitutes herself ;the cause for the duel; the strange attitude of the family) are necessary to prepare the final unexpected twist.
Although filmed in daylight,in the luminous island,"la loi du survivant" is actually a graveyard where the hero's memories -which come back for a short flashback- and his loyalty clash with the girl's doom.
The first Giovanni movies were probably his best (see also "le rapace" where he finds back LIno Ventura ,the "survivor" of "les aventuriers" and even "dernier domicile connu").The precedent user has already praised it.I can only agree with him.
NB:François De Roubaix's score is ,as usual, excellent.So is Hughes Aufray's song "près du coeur les blessures" (near the heart,wounds never close)
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