For Reel

Code Name Melville (2008)
December 14, 2015, 11:06 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Olivier Bohler
3 Stars
Code Name MelvilleCode Name Melville begins with director Jean-Pierre Melville’s admission that he thought of the years in which he served with the French Resistance during World War II as the best of his life. Despite the horrors, Melville speaks of the unusual camaraderie between soldiers–a sort of companionship that could only be bred from such brutal situations. It’s a haunting way to begin this brief portrait of the great director, and perhaps an in for a psychoanalytic critique of the way his films tend to involve male companionships that are both strengthened and destroyed by a sense of duty. The documentary discusses the influence that Melville had on other directors in great detail, and particularly how his envisioning of gangsters was uniquely old-fashioned–his characters had more in common with the types of gangsters from old Hollywood films than what one would expect of a French criminal. Very little footage is used from the actual films (which would have been useful in validating the film’s points), and the documentary largely relies on a small, repetitive assortment of interviews. The material regarding Melville’s time with the Resistance is fascinating, but largely the film is a relatively informative, albeit limiting assessment of his work.

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