Melville seems to peer out from behind the camera with a reassuring wink and nod. Le Cercle Rouge is the most self-consciously cool of his famously underheated films noirs.
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Key action points are edited with finesse, but the denouement, with its dutiful hail of gunfire, is heartless and mechanical.
A glistening gem among caper movies, this impeccably elegant jewel-heist drama takes its title from Buddhist lore, its cast from France's great gallery of leading men, and its style from the unique blend of cinematic savoir-faire and brooding existential angst.
For students of cool ... Le Cercle Rouge is required viewing.
A work of leisurely development and tragic inevitability.
If you've got the patience, this is still one of the all-time exercises in cinematic cool.
Watching Le Cercle Rouge, we're caught up in a world that, however improbable some of its twists and turns seem, strikes us as a perfect, imaginative creation.
At its best, the film compares favorably to its obvious antecedents, "Rififi" (which Melville once hoped to direct) and "The Asphalt Jungle."
There is one cool, understated scene after another.
For some of us, this constitutes a religious event.