Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Order to Assassinate

(Jorge Montesi, 1984)
Sketchy narrative, minimal characterization, and wooden acting, with Montesi more remote than anybody in his central role of grizzled assassin with secret moral code. All of which is entirely appropriate to a film that approaches its genre with the seriousness and formal discipline of the best experimentalists. The dedication to Jean-Pierre Melville is the giveaway, but it's not the whole story: this impossibly cold gangster narrative is the product of a guy who knows cinema from the inside out, exploiting his expressionless cast for Bresson-like alienation and tossing in a suggestively overextended hotel-room tryst a la Breathless. And bringing things back to Hollywood, we have dry Casablanca and Disney references that are as close as this project ever comes to actual humour. The narrative draws a suggestively ambiguous line from third-world warfare to native land claims to the sleaziest corners of the sex trade, evoking worlds of malevolence and corruption with the details it leaves untold. Imperfectly realized, but Montesi is really on to something with his passionate commitment to exploitation as artistry.

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