Sunday, October 03, 2010

Trois hommes à abattre

1980, France, directed by Jacques Deray

The seventh of Jacques Deray's collaborations with Alain Delon - and the last before a lengthy hiatus - is drawn from a novel by Jean-Pierre Manchette, although Deray, Delon and Christopher Frank, who adapted the novel, transform the main character from a middle manager - hardly a Delonian staple - to a professional card player, much more up the actor's alley. Still, Manchette's influence survives in the deeply cynical view of France's military-industrial complex and, perhaps, in the occasionally confusing narrative; his novels, to my mind, are always stronger on atmosphere than on plot.

Plotting issues aside, Deray's filming style is straightforward and direct, quickly moving the action forward after a brief prologue, and the film is very much in line with the pungent machismo of his previous collaborations with Delon, right down to the bluntly downbeat ending. Delon's girlfriend provides a revealing moment when she objects to being treated like a dispensable fool, though Delon - and Deray - are ultimately oblivious to her protests; you suspect that Manchette, though no stranger to machismo himself, might have made rather more of that idea.

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