(Du rififi chez les hommes)
A French cinematic masterpiece, Rififi, today observes the same perfections it had in an earlier era. Almost one year ago its celebrated director, Jules Dassin, nearing his century mark, passed away, leaving behind an illustrious career as both director/producer and writer. Although his many successes were prodigious, Rififi holds a special prominence in the list. Beautifully adapted from Auguste Le Breton’s novel by Dassin, this tale of a flawless jewel heist gone wrong in the aftermath, is the template for all those following in similar tradition. Yet it still holds its own qualities.
One of Rififi’s more significant accomplishments is that won of astute casting. The complex role of its leading character, Tony le Stephanois, is magnificently fulfilled by Jean Servais who must portray a professional thief capable of masterminding the ultimate heist but whose code and moral core surpass the ordinary even more. The host of supporting roles are less complicated but equally fulfilled professionally.
The viewer enters this world of the professional criminal, soon to become an almost vicarious accomplice. Going through each step to perfect the score, it’s as if no detail is left in which you’re not participating. Both articulation of each step and the impending suspense keep you riveted.
One tragic misstep, however, leads to the subsequent series of tragic consequences. While the price to be paid “to set things right” must be in blood, something the professional jewel thief rarely must face, still there is little alternative.
The setting is of a different time, the loyalties between man and woman, accomplice and accomplice, vastly more profound. A time when police could not solve crime by involving in it. A time when love was not trivialized into commercial sell pitches. Indeed, a movie upon which to reflect…even win some new perspective…hopefully.
Fit for family, suitable for connoisseur and a film you won’t soon forget. Highest order recommendation.