• Un Flic (Kino Lorber) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Kino Lorber
    Released on: November 19th, 2019.
    Director: Jean-Pierre Melville
    Cast: Alain Delon, Richard Crenna, Catherine Deneuve, Michael Conrad, Riccardo Cucciolla, Jean Desailly
    Year: 1972
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    Un Flic – Movie Review:

    Also known as Dirty Money, Jean-Pierre Melville’s final film, opens with a striking scene wherein three armed men, clad in raincoats and fedoras, get out of their car and walk through the rain into a bank. A fourth man waits outside in the car, the engine still running. Led by a man we later learn is named Simon (Richard Crenna), with calm, cool demeanors these men proceed to rob the bank and make their escape in the aforementioned car. While this is going on, the film cuts back and forth between what’s happening at the bank and a Parisian police officer named Edouard Coleman (Alain Delon) making his rounds. We see him follow up on some leads, make some phone calls and talk to a transvestite informant who may or may not have a crush on him. The bank robbers, meanwhile, proceed to bury their haul away from where anyone might notice – clearly, this is just part of their plan.

    As it turns out, Simon and Coleman are very good friends. Things get understandably complicated as Simon and his crew start planning their biggest score yet – a daring drug heist on a train by way of a helicopter – and both he and Coleman fall for a beautiful woman named Cathy (Catherine Denueve). As the story evolves, we know that these two friends will come into conflict with one another – and they do, but maybe not quite as you expect them to.

    "The only feelings mankind has ever inspired in policemen are those of indifference and derision."
    -François-Eugène Vidocq

    By opening the film with that quote, Melville lets us know where the characters in this film stand. The police work shown in this picture isn’t particularly glamorous of cool, it’s the burglars, Simon and his crew, that are bestowed that honor. As it in the director’s other noir-inspired pictures, Un Flic (which translates quite literally to ‘A Cop’) is extremely methodical in its depiction of ‘the process.’ We see this straight away as the film starts, with Melville focusing in on the details of the bank robbery and see it again during the train robbery scene, not just during the moments involving the helicopter, which are quite tense, but also when Crenna’s character has to get cleaned up in order to make his way through the upscale car without drawing any unnecessary attention to himself. We literally spend almost ten-minutes watching him change out of his jumpsuit into some rather posh looking pajamas. From there he washes up and combs his hair – and Melville shows us all of this in real time. Because of the extended sequences, Un Flic moves at a pretty deliberate pace that some will no doubt find slow, but this is a film worth sticking with as things ramp up considerably in the final act.

    The performances here are very strong. Richard Crenna, probably best known for his recurring role as Trautman in the first three Rambo movies, delivers a pretty solid turn here. He was dubbed into French but this never really gets distracting the way you might expect it to, it’s done rather well. The lovely Catherine Denueve, of Polanski’s Repulsion, is very good in her supporting role as well. It’s Alain Delon, however, who makes the strongest impression. His cop is flawed, quite human and, as we all are, imperfect. We see him overreact when he gets bad information and we see him make mistakes, but he’s convincing in portraying his character’s determination. Melville ensures that there are lots of close ups of his piercing blue eyes, and he looks quite striking here. He’s well cast, looking the part and acting it very well.

    An interesting bit of trivia? Early in the film, when Coleman is investigating the crime scene, if you look closely at the graffiti on the wall you’ll see a telephone number with the name Jef Costello written beside it. Jef Costello was the name of the character that Delon played in his earlier collaboration with Melville, 1967’s masterful Le Samouraï. And while Un Flic may not succeed the way that Le Samouraï or Le Cercle Rouge do, it’s still a pretty interesting and very stylish film.

    Un Flic – Blu-ray Review:

    Kino Lorber presents Un Flic in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed in the film’s original 1.85.1 aspect ratio on a 50GB disc. Instantly you’ll notice that the film has a heavy blue tint to it but this is in keeping with past DVD editions. The theatrical trailer included also points towards this having had a blue tint to it when originally released to theaters, so it would seem that this is the correct way to present the film. Kino uses a transfer supplied by Studio Canal, their logo precedes the feature presentation. Visuals are a little tricky given that a lot of the film takes place outside with heavy rain, that the blue filter is in place pretty much for the duration and that some of the interiors are rather smoky. As such, detail can’t really rise to reference quality but the transfer here is pretty solid. Close up shots show things off the best, you can see the pock marks in Crenna’s face and note the pilling on some of the clothes. There aren’t any noticeable compression issues or edge enhancement problems and the picture is free of obvious noise reduction. It’s definitely on the softer side of the spectrum and possibly taken from an older master but it looks decent enough.

    The French language DTS-HD Mono track, which comes with optional English subtitles, does have some minor sibilance in a few spots but otherwise, it’s clean and nicely balanced. The score sounds good, gun shots have some nice punch behind them, and overall there aren’t any issues here.

    Extra features are plentiful, starting with an audio commentary track from Samm Deighan who does a pretty nice job of detailing the history of the film while also offering her own interpretation of the events depicted therein. She talks quite a bit about the backgrounds of the different actors that populate the picture and offers thoughts on the performances. There’s also plenty of talk about Melville’s style, the way that the film flaunt its artificiality in certain scenes (particularly those using miniatures) and some of the obsessive detail that the film features (the ten-minute scene where we see Crenna so carefully change into his pajamas being on example that she cites, and a perfect one at that).

    Kino has also put together quite a few featurettes, the first of which is the fifty-eight-minute documentary In The Mood For Melville. In this documentary, directed by Benjamin Clavel in 2017, we trace the evolution of the director’s style and learn of the influence that he had on the French New Wave movement at home as well as abroad , specifically in Asia. There’s some great archival interview clips with Melville himself in here as well as clips from some of this films but the bulk of the material is made up of newly shot interviews with the likes of filmmakers Gim Kim, Tsui Hark, Alex Cheung, Kim Jee-woon, Kim Hong-joon, Oh Seung-uk, Hitoshi Yazaki as well as Japanese cinema expert Mark Roberts, Hong Kong cinema expert Arnaud Lanuque, Seoul University Professor Antoine Coppola and Kurosawa, Mizoguchi. The connection between Melville’s Le Samouraï and John Woo’s The Killer has been well-documented but those goes quite a bit deeper than that. It’s a shame that Woo himself wasn’t included here but the those who are interviewed make some interesting points about the trading of influences between Melville’s work in France and many of this fellow filmmakers on the other side of the world.

    There is also a great featurette on the disc that is an interview with Jean-Francois Delon, Alain's Delon’s brother, who served as first assistant director on the picture and Florence Gabin, who is the late Jean Gabin’s daughter and who worked as the script supervisor during the production of the film. Here, over a twenty-six-minute span, we learn how they came on board to work with Melville behind the camera, what producer Robert Dorfmann’s role was in all of this, what both of their respective jobs entailed during the shoot, what it was like on set and what Melville was like both as a person (Grabin straight up calls him a misogynist, but is also able to clarify why she thinks that and then goes on speaks of him with great affection regardless) and as a director (he was quite a character). There’s also talk of Melville’s style, how his films always focus on male characters and are, in some regards, rather ambiguous, his use of silence in his films and how he was able to create such rich atmosphere. There’s interesting insight into the relationship between Melville and Alain Delon, the language barrier that existed during the shoot, how Alain and Jean-Francois got along on set, Melville’s love of cats, the use of miniatures in the film (and why that choice was made) and quite a bit more. It’s all very fascinating stuff and while Gabin definitely has more to say than Jean-Francois Delon, both contribute a lot to this piece and offer some interesting stories and opinions. There’s also some great behind the scenes footage in here as well as some equally great archival interview clips with both Melville and Alain Delon included in here.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc is the film’s original theatrical trailer and bonus trailers for a few other French films distributed by Kino – Farewell Friend, Diabolically Yours, Le Doulos, Bob Le Flambour, Leon Morin, Priest and The Sicilian Clan. Menus and chapter selection are also provided.

    Un Flic – The Final Word:

    Un Flic is definitely a slow burn, but it’s a very rewarding one. Kino brings the film to Blu-ray with a satisfying presentation and a host of excellent supplements. Recommended.

    Click on the images below for full sized Un Flic Blu-ray screen caps!