Watch Le deuxieme souffle
- 2 hr 30 min
Le deuxieme souffle is a French crime thriller from 1966 which tells the story of Gustave Minda, or 'Gu', one of the most notorious criminals in Paris. After escaping from prison, Gu and his gang plan a daring robbery of an armored car carrying millions of francs. But the plan goes awry and Gu is forced to flee, unable to trust anyone around him. The film follows Gu's attempts to evade the police and his former associates, who are eager to collect the bounty that has been placed on his head. Along the way, he meets two women who offer him a glimmer of hope and a chance at redemption: Manou, a street smart prostitute, and Christine, a wealthy socialite who Gu takes hostage after a botched robbery. What makes Le deuxieme souffle stand out from other crime thrillers of its time is its treatment of Gu as a fully realized character, rather than a one-dimensional criminal. Lino Ventura delivers a nuanced and gripping performance as Gu, portraying him as a charismatic and ruthless gangster who is also capable of vulnerability and tenderness. The film shows us Gu's motivations, his relationships with the people around him, and the complex psychological forces that drive him to commit crimes. The film also features strong performances from the supporting cast, particularly Paul Meurisse as Commissaire Blot, the detective tasked with tracking down Gu. Blot is a fascinating character in himself, a world-weary police officer with a cynical view of the justice system and a deep understanding of the criminal mind. Meurisse brings a sense of gravitas to the role, making Blot a worthy adversary for Gu. Director Jean-Pierre Melville imbues the film with a stylish and atmospheric feel, using the Parisian streets and the criminal underworld as key elements of the story. The film is shot in a moody black-and-white style, with stark lighting and bold compositions that add to the tension and drama. Melville's use of silence and minimal dialogue also gives the film a brooding intensity, making it feel like a classic film noir updated for the 1960s. Le deuxieme souffle is also notable for its use of non-linear storytelling, with the film jumping back and forth in time to show us different aspects of Gu's life and criminal career. This gives the film a sense of depth and complexity, as we see how the events of the past have shaped Gu's present and how his actions now will have consequences in the future. Despite its focus on crime and violence, Le deuxieme souffle also has a strong sense of morality and ethics. The film raises questions about justice, loyalty, and redemption, and challenges the viewer to consider whether Gu is a villain or a hero. Is he a product of his environment, a victim of circumstance, or simply a bad person? The film offers no easy answers, but encourages the audience to think deeply about the nature of crime and punishment. Overall, Le deuxieme souffle is a gripping and intelligent crime thriller that still holds up today. With its richly drawn characters, stylish direction, and thought-provoking themes, it remains a landmark of French cinema and an essential entry in the crime genre.