Max is a Paris detective, aloof, independently wealthy, and frustrated by gangs of robbers whom he cannot catch. To re-establish his stature and save face, he decides to persuade a group of petty thieves (led by an old acquaintance) to rob a bank.
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The characters here are powerful, split into dominants and victims--cats and mice. Romy Schneider's role as Lily was seductive and sympathetic, a needed foil to Michel Piccoli's puppetmaster Max. On reflection, MATJM was an interesting and well-made crime story with haunting paradigms of excess. Perhaps not inspired like Melville or Hitchcock's best, but one to watch and think about.
This movie is about an entrapment scheme by a frustrated cop. The most interesting aspect of that scheme is the psychological manipulation of the girlfriend of one of the gangsters, played by the incredible Romy Schneider.
(spoiler alert) The movie is sustained by the play of Michel Piccoli, mainly, who gives a touch of profundity to an otherwise unplausible, incoherent character. The scenes are well played and directed, and lifelike, and it’s easy to miss the incongruity of character in the case of Max. In his case you have a morality driven cop who acts as an instigator of crimes and who ultimately becomes himself a murderer.
The plot is too absurd to take seriously, and film looks like every 70s American cop drama, with the bad dialogue and all. Basically, a gang gets the best of a cop (oh yeah, an independently wealth cop; what?!?!) and he decides to hatch an overly elaborate scheme to get a small time bunch of hoods to commit another bank robbery to....well I don’t know, really. Completely ridiculous.
The engine that makes this go is the charisma of the leads. No one has ever furrowed a brow or smoke a cigarette quite like Michel Piccoli. Romy Schneider isn't given much to do here but she glows and her scenes with Piccoli are terrific. François Périer -- a legendary supporting man -- is also in fine form. As for the ending (which I won't reveal), it has me thinking maybe there's more substance here than I thought.
How the power of money corrupt and degrade people who are forced into a criminal situation staged by men in suits - hell, Piccoli could easily have played a sleazy no-good politician making a decision on paper that force these men and women into becoming bank robbers. Romy play that kind of tainted prostitute that you still would take and marry so the ending in this film makes totally sense to me.
Como era esperado, o clima charmoso de filme 'noir' tipicamente francês lembra bastante o estilo melvilleano: há o crime, mas há a culpa. Há a redenção, mas há a perda. Neste sentido, o título brasileiro é ainda mais providencial e sintético que o original: brilhante, genial! Michel Piccolli está soberbo, mas é Romy Schneider quem fascina-nos a cada aparição. E a trilha sonora de Philippe Sarde é impecável! (WPC>)