3 May 2005 | desperateliving
This is a very interesting way to approach the Holocaust -- a portrait of a life, fairly slow to get its rhythms (at its worst, Losey directs the film in a stale manner), told ostensibly as a mystery, with truths about the Holocaust (that come into effect at the end of the film) and how the daily routine of it felt for an observer. It's a brutal revenge story (we know that Klein is being punished for making money off the deaths of others from the beginning), but also an allegory for the self-loathing Jew who, in this case, runs toward his death, aware that it's coming and trying to avoid it but actually walking right into it, a nasty bit of determinism.
The beginning of the film has a title that suggests this film is about not a person but a phenomenon -- a composite of various people -- but just what phenomenon are they talking about? Art dealers during the Nazi occupation? That could be, but how many of them had their identity essentially stolen from them? I think the phenomenon they're referring to has more to do with that allegory than it does with the literal happenings of the film. But what's so impressive about the film is that the literal happenings are taken very seriously.
Delon's performance here, as per usual in his later years, is very good and very subtle. He's not a ruthless man, and there's a very interesting balance he pulls off between being annoyed at his police troubles and trying not to offend anyone, especially the Jews, as he tries desperately to get off their newspaper mailing list. Of course there is no grandstanding, and his aging beauty gives him a perpetually over-tired face, a pretty boy whose looks are slowly deteriorating. He must have been aware of that, as his worn face matches the dull, rainy Paris landscape in the film. 8/10