Le Cercle Rouge

Le Cercle Rouge

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville, starring Alain Delon. I watched this way back in 2003 (with my son), so I was expecting to enjoy it and perhaps get more out of it (it was a little confusing the first time around). I am sorely divided on this film - was it good or was it bad?

Since Roger Ebert (and presumably others - it is a classic of sorts) have gushed about it, I won't spend time on the good points.

There are a lot of places where I feel the movie is lacking - many improbabilities, many story lines raised for a second and then discarded without development, of which I will mention only a few.

Take Alain Delon's relationship with his former mistress. He has just been released after five years in prison, and she is now shacked up with the mob boss. The scene where he discards her photos is great, but then what? Nothing.

How could he possibly return to his same apartment, vacant five years with no rent paid, but still there waiting, with the same key? Yes, it was dusty when he entered. The next time we saw it, it was miraculously cleaned. How did that happen? A minor point, to be dismissed by the film's advocates.

Take the pursued convict's escape from the bloodhounds by throwing his clothes across a narrow stream and then wading to the other side to retrieve them? As the leader of about 100 pursuing police says, "We lost him at the steam." Give me a break! Try looking on the other side? Hitchcock would have either had his clothes fall short of the other side, or have them caught perilously on an overhanging branch.

What about the guy whose brother-in-law supposedly provided the details of the new security installation? Totally eliminated.

Why was the scene with the police inspector and his cats repeated twice? Nothing was portrayed the second time that was not shown in the first.

Why was the police superintendent (overseeing the inspector) there at all? He contributed nothing.

There were many nice points - the "marksman" (who implausibly recovered from alcoholic DTs) disdaining a tripod for a manual shot (not that the shot in question made much sense). But then he implausibly changed character again, presumably only to satisfy the ending of all of Melville's movies: they all die in the rain.

Many other nice points that I will not mention - Roger Ebert has effused about them already. I did not dislike this movie.

And, OK, how can I ignore the biggest of them all? When the convict makes his escape from the train, it is the height of summer. Very plain. The next day or so, when he sneaks into Alain Delon's trunk, it is the middle of winter. I mean, if stuff like this were repeated, you might say, "Well, it is the director's trademark ambiguity, blah, blah, blah." No. One moment it was summer, the next moment it was winter. Give me a break! Or at least attempt to explain it.

I strongly suspect that Roger Ebert was just dazzled by his secret desire to be The Hoodlum in the Trenchcoat, the Cold and Unfeeling Guy Who Reveals Nothing.