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A teacher and a gangster meet by chance in a small town pharmacy. As a friendship of sorts develops between these opposite personalities, each starts to envy the other and by the week's end, everything will change for both of them. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
We know this film from childhood, but the child has grown. Here we are in a provincial French city when the cowboy rides in on the iron train to transform the life of a citizen, unexpectedly, profoundly.
Jean Rochefort, with his great face of character, about to go for major surgery, a three vessel bypass, a wifeless man of regrets, a retired teacher of literature to secondary students, is about to meet his fantasy: Johnny Hollyday (the Elvis of France?) who plays a bank robber about to perform his retirement job. Meeting by apparent chance, though clearly pre-ordained, the fantasies of the lonely, anxious teacher whose love of poetry might be his most tender trait in an otherwise ruthlessly real view of the world, are set in motion. Hollyday becomes his unexpected guest...the lone hotel is closed for the season...and an excitement comes to Rochefort's life. The man has guns. There is a picture of him looking terribly western in his leather jacket, the enigmatic stranger/cowboy in the mythos of his host. Ah, to be that man, to fire that gun, to live that life of dark adventure.
It goes on to its meaningful end, not told here except to say that the last scene may be an error, a prolongation that was unnecessary and added nothing to the power of the film, nor detracted from the marvelous performance of Rochefort, who can do no wrong with any role, or Hollyday, whose acting turn here is perfect in the Robert Mitchum noir sense, but tinged with an old-world tiredness that is quite moving. All this with fine subsidiary acting, a perfectly murky Simenonoish setting, and Schubert's melancholic sounds. Ah, bon. Tres, tres bon.
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