Louis Malle’s 1958 debut has long been heralded as a forerunner of the French New Wave, with its unorthodox structure, verité camerawork and starring role for Jeanne Moreau.
The ambition is bracing, but critical hindsight obscures how exciting Malle’s noir thriller is on its own terms.
The plot – about a perfect murder that unravels when Moreau’s accomplice (Maurice Ronet) gets stuck in a lift – is liberally doused in dramatic irony; it’s amazing Hollywood never remade it.
Then again, anybody would struggle to recapture the existential melancholy provided by Malle and Moreau.
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