Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Red Handed

(Jacques Santi, 1987)
Taking on the familiar police-drama themes of corruption and loyalty, this one is notable for its emphasis on the psychology of Richard Bohringer’s lead cop. When he finds out that longtime colleague Pierre Arditi is cosy with the criminals he’s trying to bust, we know that he’ll come up with a clever scheme to expose the collusion. But before we get there the cop’s sense of betrayal and disillusion leads him, and us, into an exceptionally protracted personal spiral: he spends fully half the movie breaking up with his girlfriend, gambling himself into an impossible hole of debt, eating noodles over the sink. The irony is that this downward trajectory brings him into ever closer intimacy with the criminal underworld himself; by the time he does spring his trap, his motivations have progressed past moral outrage to simple self-preservation. Bohringer’s taciturn unreadability fails to let us into his head the way this approach would seem to require, but this remains a rather engaging, tersely executed take on this material, and the resigned admiration with which Arditi accepts his fate caps the film’s sense of moral ambiguity with impressive concision.

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