There’s style here undoubtedly: its tale of a down-on-his-luck gambler looking for one last big score by staging a heist has been cribbed for so many subsequent films that it can’t help but feeling like cliché. The plot’s not all that later filmmakers (not least early Godard and all his fanboy imitators) would take — the use of music, the laid-back style, the pop culture references (all those film posters; Breathless really did owe a lot to Melville). The problem is — and I concede this may just be because I’ve seen all its imitators first — I wasn’t grabbed by it. It looks great but these guys all feel like empty archetypes, and the young woman’s characterisation appears to be undressing in various men’s apartments.
FILM REVIEW: Criterion Collection
Director/Writer Jean-Pierre Melville; Cinematographer Henri Decaë; Starring Roger Duchesne, Isabelle Corey; Length 102 minutes.
Seen at a friend’s home (DVD), London, Sunday 26 March 2017.