1960, Movies

Classe tous risques (1960, Claude Sautet)

This is a fascinating French crime drama/thriller with a pretty unique plot and structure – I can’t really think of another film quite like it.

There’s a weird structure to this one: it just plunges you right into the action and then there’s a section that feels almost existential before the climax. It’s a really unique form though I’m not 100% sure that it works. It’s one of those films with lots of really cool elements, but i think there are enough flaws that I do not think it’s deserving of its status as a “forgotten masterpiece”.

The action sequences are all really well done and are more exciting than juts about anything I can think of being made in the States at the time, for example. It’s location shot (but of course) and there’s a lot of POV/reverse POV stuff in the early scenes, which is pretty cool.

I really like the unique “gangster on the run with his kids”, even if he’s just a terrible father and the kids don’t appear to be much more than placeholders. (These are some well-behaved kids.) And the way his friends treat him feels both authentic and also quite influential on the “old gangster comes back from prison” type of story. (Not that this is quite that story.)

My two biggest quibbles are the lack of realism and the narration. I’m not always convinced that Davos is actually as tough as he’s supposed to be. I don’t know why, exactly. And his kids sure don’t feel like real children, rather just well-behaved props.

But it’s the narration which is the real problem. Not so much the initial narration, which helps explain things – though it wouldn’t be a problem without it. Rather it’s the super anti-climactic closing narration which is like “And then this really important plot point happened, the end.” It does fit in with the film’s other subversions of gangster movie tropes, but I still found it off-putting.

But, on the whole, this is a really unique gangster/crime film with a lot going for it.


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