LE SAMOURAI

 

This film was OK, nothing I’d go out of my way to see again.

 

Watching Le Samourai, I went from being confused to interested, to disappointed by the ending.  At the beginning I wondered, who was this man, the story’s protagonist?  A detective?  A car thief?  Ohhh, an assassin!  Though if the character, Jef, was supposed to represent a modern-day samurai, it failed.  Samurai’s acted with honor.  What kind of samurai – let alone, assassin – goes around stealing people’s cars???  This one does.

 

The main problem with this film – and it’s a big one – is that Jef does a lot of stupid things for supposedly being such a great assassin.  For instance, why does he:

 

A)    go out wearing something as conspicuous as a rain coat and a fedora? 

B)     choose to take out his target at the very public jazz club, instead of just waiting for an opportunity somewhere quieter where he won’t be seen?

C)    not change into other clothing afterwards, dumping his easily-identifiable coat and hat along with the gun?

 

Sure, he uses the coat and hat as part of his alibi later – which I thought was very clever – BUT it wouldn’t have been necessary if he’d been more adept at covering his tracks.  It’s surprising that he’d lasted this long as a killer-for-hire.

 

Another misstep by Jef  was going from the assassination to the all-night poker game, when he probably knew the police would be doing a sweep of “the usual suspects.”  Wouldn’t he have been better off going back to his apartment, where the police –because they most likely didn’t know about him – weren’t likely to look? (It was mentioned while Jef was in the police lineup that he didn’t have a record.) The alibi with his girlfriend still would’ve worked if he had been picked up, but that was less likely to have happened if he’d just gone home in the first place.

 

*******SPOILER ALERT**********

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, in the last section of the film, Jef leads the police on an extended chase through the Metro subway system, eventually eluding them.  Now equipped with a gun, he sets upon his latest target, the beautiful piano player at the same jazz club as his earlier target.  But Jef, somehow knowing that the police are waiting there for him, has no intention of going through with it.  Purposely emptying the gun cylinder of bullets before he enters the club, Jef intends for the police to gun him down as he makes his assassination attempt on her.

 

Again, questions abound:

 

Why is a hit ordered on Valerie, the pianist?  Was it because she was a witness to the earlier crime?  Why did Valerie lie to the police earlier in the film and not identify Jef as the assassin, even though she had a good, close-up look at his face?  And why does Jef prefer death to carrying out this assignment?  Has he fallen in love with Valerie?  Has he lost his “samurai” honor by knowing too much about his target, knowing that she doesn’t deserve to die?  We never find out one way or the other.  The answers are maddeningly few, and we can only speculate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*******END OF SPOILER**********

 

I know this review focuses  just on the plot, without mentioning direction, acting, music or the wonderful noir cinematography, but without a coherent, consistent storyline, those other elements mean very little.

 

 

I gave this movie a rating of 2 stars.
John Kephart