Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 17, 2015

Jules Dassin’s Rififi isn’t as magisterial as those Jean-Pierre Melville procedurals (esp. ’62, ’66, ’70), which are so singleminded as to be practically abstract. Not as magisterial, and also, maybe as a result, more accessible. It is also not as profound, but it sure is easier. Its celebrated near-silent caper sequence is really is celebratable—it’s singleminded to the point of near perversity, bold, a provocation, fantastic. The whole film is a process actually: stations of the cross, but without any hope of salvation. It’s also an exploration of a very particular milieu, which is quite convincing, and pretty thoroughly unpleasant. No fun being a woman in this world! It seems to me that on that count, Rififi is much more Mean Streets (oblivious) than The Departed (conscious critique). Seems to me that it’s a bit stereotypical about Italians, too.

Is it ever wintery! And not in the festive, snowy, jingling sense either. Grey, grimy, and the night falling fast. Critique of capitalism, anyone? Also good to point out that our dire hero has one of those great, ugly, French noir mugs. Threads are expertly gathered as the film approaches its climax. As I watched, admiring, I had another urgent thought. Put that kid in a seatbelt! You never fully forget yourself when you’re watching a movie, do you? Some kind of an ending!