1941 in a small town in Nazi occupied France. Against the will of its elderly male and his adult niece residents, the Nazis commandeer a house for one of their officers, Lt. Werner von ... See full summary »
A French UN delegate has disappeared into thin air, sending reporter Moreau (Jean-Pierre Melville) and hard drinking photographer Delmas (Pierre Grasset) on an assignment to find him. Their only lead is a picture of three women.
On the eve of his release after five years imprisoned, the thief Corey is contacted by one guard of the prison that offers him a jewelry heist. However Corey seeks out his former boss Rico and steals money from him. Rico sends two gangsters to hunt Corey down and retrieve the stolen amount. Meanwhile the criminal Vogel is transported by train by the Police Officer Mattei and succeeds to escape. Corey drives from Marseille to Paris and Vogel hides in the trunk of his car. Corey finds him but does not object to ride Vogel to Paris hidden in the trunk. When the gangsters sent by Rico cut in Corey's car, Vogel saves him from the criminals, but Corey loses the money. Without money, Corey decides to heist the jewelry with Vogel and invites the former police detective Jansen to team-up with them. The trio executes a perfect heist but Rico is seeking revenge and Mattei is an unethical but efficient police officer capable to use any means to resolve the case.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
First let me say I'm a fan of Melville. His compositions of a frame, his use of silence, his held shots, but THE RED CIRCLE is not one of Melville's better films.
Melville was always a minimalist, he was never a director who had much to say, 60% of his films were always... silence. So a 100 minute movie for Melville, was really only 40 mins of movie with 60 mins of style. His best movies, Le Doulous and Le Samourai, stay right around this 100 minute mark, coming in at 108 and 105 minutes respectfully. And at that length, they take Melville's minimalism and style as far as it can go, without slumping into tedium or filler.
At a 140 minutes Red Circle, falls headlong into tedium and filler. It is Melville's emptiest movie, with his customary 40 mins of story now horrifically stretched into two hours and 20 minutes. There's a lot to like in pieces about this movie; the train break, the trunk scene, but they are few and far between.
Two nearly identical long scenes of the inspector feeding his cats, the laughably ineffective hallucination scene, and the robbery itself, unlike his earlier works... are flawed uses of silences. Melville, perhaps believing his own hype, takes it too far, they are tedious, tedious scenes.
He tries to outdo Asphalt Jungle and Rififi and he fails miserably. And even edited down substantially the movie would still fail, because the 40mins of story that Le Doulos and Samourai had... were brilliant, RED CIRCLE is not. While Melville did the script for all three of these films, the first two were sourced from acclaimed novels of the time.
Here in RED CIRCLE Melville goes it alone, making up his own story, and it shows, in a confused and muddled film that ends as poorly and as unconvincingly as any film in recent memory.
All in all, not Melville's finest hour. So have to side here with Bluesdoctor, Bornjaded, Mike, and Steve and give this one a fail.
** out of ****.
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