Sunday, June 24, 2012

SÈRIE NOIRE (1979) - Alain Corneau

Many a director has tried his hand at the Jim Thompson film adaptation with varying degrees of success. Stephen Frears with The Grifters (fantastic, if a little slick). Peckinpah with The Getaway (magnificent, though the ending is a bit of a cheat). Michael Winterbottom with The Killer Inside Me (disappointing all the way around). Though director Corneau relocates the action of Thompson's A Hell of a Woman from the American southwest to the Paris suburbs, he keeps one thing in tact the others often forgo...the complete gutter depravity of Thompson's low-rent characters.

Patrick Dewaere's desperate door-to-door salesman is no cool-headed Steve McQueen. He's no suave, hyper-literate John Cusack. And he's certainly not the charming yokel sociopath of a Casey Affleck. Dewaere is balls-out crazy from the first few frames. He play acts shoot-outs in an abandoned lot, lip synchsAmerican pop songs into the weeds, karate chops the air while hatching bent money making schemes. And once he meets the teenage shut-in down the street, it only gets worse (and by that I mean better). Dewaere's performance alone is reason enough to check out Série Noire. But, if you're a Thompson fan, consider it an absolute noir priority.

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