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  • Writer's pictureGarrett Brodey

Le Samouraï - One Of My Favorite Films

Updated: Dec 18, 2023


Le Samouraï is a 1967 French film noir directed by Jean-Pierre Melville. Letterboxd’s synopsis of the plot states: After carrying out a flawlessly planned hit, Jef Costello, a contract killer with samurai instincts, finds himself caught between a persistent police investigator and a ruthless employer, and not even his armor of fedora and trench coat can protect him.



I remember when I first watched this film. I was at my now in-laws house and I had time to watch a film. I was in the mood for a Neo-Noir so I did some research and the film’s title caught my eye. I also saw it had a criterion release, which raised my curiosity. From the first shot I knew I'd love this film. The credits roll over a shot of a blank room, with a man smoking in bed, as the amazing score looms in the background. The film establishes the tone and atmosphere right off the bat. 


The story is simple yet there are so many layers to it. This film takes a simple concept and runs with it, adding depth to the protagonist and the situation he’s in. The film has plenty of moments of “show don’t tell” which I appreciate. The acting, directing, music, and editing tell the story better than any dialogue could. It's brilliant. The dialogue is also believable and well written. There are so many great scenes that build tension. I found myself on the edge of my seat waiting to find out what’s going to happen. The story is perfect for a film noir. 



This is a fantastic Neo-Noir with all the tropes that I love. The broken yet badass protagonist, the lover he wants to be with but knows it’ll never happen, the paranoia, silhouettes, smoking, jazz… I can go on. I watch this when I want to watch that perfect film noir. 


Alain Delon plays the perfect film noir protagonist. Jef Costello is one of my favorite protagonists in cinema. You can see how dead his eyes are from his stoic facial expression. I believed he was this empty shell of a human with no soul. I love his look. The fedora and trench coat is the pitch perfect look of a film noir protagonist. Delon has that look down. Again, the perfect noir protagonist.



Everything about the film is perfectly executed. The direction, writing, acting, cinematography, production design, editing, and especially the music. They all blend beautifully together into the perfect film noir. It’s one of those rare instances where everything about the film works so well together. Jean-Pierre Melville’s directing and writing should be studied.



François de Roubaix’s score is phenomenal. The perfect film noir score. The scenes where the soft trumpet played gave me goosebumps. This is another case where the score elevates the film into another level.


Henri Decaë was the cinematographer and he did a fantastic job. This film had that perfect film noir look. The silhouettes and smoky atmosphere, like the score, elevated this film as well. I was amazed at some of the shots they got. I also appreciated that in some scenes at night, it was actually dark.

 


Overall, I cannot recommend this film enough. If you’re a lover of cinema, film noir, or both it’s perfect. It’s a masterpiece and one of my favorite films of all time. 


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