Thursday, January 24, 2019

Deux hommes dans la ville

1973, France/Italy, directed by José Giovanni

The final film featuring both Gabin and Delon, with the older star ceding much of the running time to his younger, though already established, counterpart; indeed, Gabin is offscreen for a great deal of the film, which focuses on Delon's character, recently released from prison and attempting to go straight (Gabin plays his parole officer). Gabin is in peak avuncular mode, the éminence grise who has seen it all, though even then he doesn't have Delon's special line in world-weariness. The film is blunt on the impact of prison and the challenges of rehabilitation, though director José Giovanni had his own complex, up-close relationship to the institution of incarceration -- he willingly collaborated with the German occupation, and was involved in various gangland activities, ending up in prison for more than eleven years before beginning his second act as a novelist and filmmaker while carefully occluding the less savoury details of his past. While the film is ultimately less profound than Giovanni would like us to believe, some of the details on the French legal system are piquant, while Gérard Depardieu and Bernard Giraudeau make notable early appearances.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States