Previously at the ICA - Films

Le Doulos, dir. Jean-Pierre Melville, 1962

Le Doulos

11 Aug 201717 Aug 2017

Maurice, a burglar, is released from prison but, almost immediately, he commits a violent act of vengeance for a past wrong. From then on he descends into a criminal world of moral ambiguity, rife with suspicion and distrust, as he hunts for the betrayer that first put him behind bars. Planning a new robbery with Silien, a thief who may or may not be a police informant, Maurice learns that nothing is as it seems in this opaque account of the backstabbing criminal fraternity.

This newly restored shadowy noir mingles the story of two gangsters, a murder and a jewellery heist gone wrong into a heady, gleefully convoluted whole. Le Doulos is emblematic of Melville's distinctive style: a potent combination of American genre tropes and a je-ne-sais-quois quality that finds its natural leading man in the effortlessly cool Jean-Paul Belmondo. The film's repurposing of classic noir mechanics, sharply dressed anti-heroes and stylised camerawork mark it out as a highlight in the French crime film heyday of the 1960s one whose influence is felt in subsequent generations, with Quentin Tarantino citing it as a reference point for Reservoir Dogs.

Le Doulos, dir. Jean-Pierre Melville, France/Italy 1962, 109 mins

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