Le Samouraï


Jean-Pierre Melville’s classic is about samurai as Seinfeld is about nothing. The conceit—it opens with an epigram on samurai solitude—is just Melville’s excuse for a highly stylized gangster movie, in which the gangsters all drink café au lait. Alain Delon, impossibly pretty, plays Jef, the enigmatic loner hit man with his own code of ethics. When he’s arrested for murder, a witness refuses to identify him, and the serpentine plot thickens. Get lost in a good yarn and forget the samurai mumbo jumbo, which has been recycled by such contemporary faves as Quentin Tarantino, Jim Jarmusch and John Woo. Melville and Delon were never better together. Criterion’s extras seem skimpy, but archival interviews with Melville and Delon, and new interviews with Melville scholars, are revealing and fun.