For Alain Cavalier's first film, he turned to a very interesting story of politics and violent action. Godard had already made Le Petit soldat a short time before, and the street violence that accompanied the Algerian war was on everyone's mind. Clément is a spoiled little boy in a man's body, with a rich father who is impatient with his son's immature actions. Anne is a glamorous would-be actress who has had enough time to understand that she made a bad choice of husband in Clément. Paul is the one uninteresting character, a Boy Scout who runs a print shop and has left-wing ideals.
Trintignant is a little inexperienced in 1961; he would go on to make The Conformist with Bertolucci, which is the definitive statement on the broken souls who made fascism so powerful in Europe. Sometimes he struggles to make Clément's bigotry and warped machismo effective. Romy Schneider seems never to put a foot wrong in her movies; she was a natural talent and her directors let her roam around in her characters. As Anne, she has a verve and spontaneity that are delightful to see. Finally, there is Pierre Asso as Serge, the veteran terrorist who assists Clement on his first kill; he has a face that is thin, mournful and somehow terrifying. A wonderful performance.
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