Sunday, December 13, 2009

Le battant (1983)

Le battant (=The Fighter) is the 2nd movie officially directed by Alain Delon. I must say that I like Pour la peau d'un flic better. This first work is more energetic and more humourous: the ending especially. Le battant is sombre with slower pace, and the main character's face is pale, perhaps after 8 years in prison.

Based on André Caroff's novel, the plot is actually good with many twists. Delon plays Jacques Darnay, a criminal wanted by the police and his old pals, because they think he has hidden a little bag of diamonds worth 6 millions. In 1974 a robbery took place in a jewelry store and the owner was murdered. Darnay was arrested because his alibi was weak and sent to jail because his lawyer was mediocre. However, was Darnay really involved in the robbery and was it him who killed the owner? After 8 years, Darnay gets out of jail, but it seems he is safer inside. The world has changed and he doesn't know who are his enemies. They kill his best friend Mignot and his mistress to show him that they are serious. Things turn better for Darnay when Gino Ruggieri, one of his old friends, sends his own mistress, Nathalie, to get the truth out of him. We can see how a woman can do when she is not treated right.

Although dedicated to René Clément, le battant pays homage to Jean-Pierre Melville. In the scene where Darnay goes to Mignot (Michel Beaune)'s hiding place, the room reminds us to Jef Costello's in Le samouraï. The refrigerator is placed outside the door. As if afraid we will miss this, there is a close up of the birdcage, completed with the music by Francois De Roubaix. To top this, François Périer is cast as Gino Ruggieri.

Like in Pour la peau d'un flic, the theme song is used again and again. I can understand why one of the guys who are following Darnay swears when he hears Oscar Benton's Bensonhurst blues and changes radio station immediately.

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