23Feb12 – 10 – Le trou (Jacques Becker: 1960)
If IMDb had an algorithm that actually worked for predicting which movies I might really like based on the scores I’ve already given, it would point me to Jacques Becker’s LE TROU (1960). The starting point of the film is four working class inmates serving long sentences who are just about to set in motion the prison break they’ve long been planning when an effete, bourgeois pretty boy (a car salesman for his rich wife’s father) is transferred to their cell. It’s hard to describe, but there’s a kind of muscular austerity to the film that I really responded to, and although it’s reminiscent of the little I’ve seen of Bresson’s work there’s none of his (Bresson’s) extra-human, spiritual dimension.
The bonds of working class brotherhood, a strong but strangely ambiguous undercurrent of homoeroticism, an unerring sense of rhythm and timing (some shots go on for far longer than any other director would have allowed, but Becker was right not to cut sooner than he does), a seeming naturalness that is anything but natural (the sounds of hammering and digging and filing through iron bars and so on are amplified and overtracked [is that a word?]; the lighting is always precise). There’s so much packed in the details here: every little thing counts. I loved it. I may raise the score after I’ve thought about it some more, but for now I’m giving it 8/10. [2/23/12]