Joseph Losey – Monsieur Klein (1976)

In Nazi-occupied Paris, the immoral art dealer, Robert Klein, leads a life of luxury, until a copy of a Jewish newspaper brings him to the attention of the police, linking him with a mysterious doppelgänger. Will Mr Klein clear his name?

★★★★ Watched by Stephen M 30 Aug 2020

This one crept up on me. Initially I felt somewhat removed as I watched it. Partly because the eponymous character played by Alain Delon himself is so removed and emotionless. But you gradually come to realize that this is intentional, that he is in fact representing the detachment and lack of concern of many French citizens regarding the targeting and removal of the Jews from Vichy France. And by the end of the film it was indeed horrifying to see this done without outcry or resistance.

A mystery with a doppelganger theme, Delon plays “Mr. Klein”, an art dealer profiting on the desperation of Jews eager to flee the country. He learns early in the film that a Jewish man with the same name and appearance is using Delon as a decoy to avoid detection. For the remainder of the film, Delon seeks to find and uncover his double so as to convince the authorities of his non-Jewish heritage. He and his friends are concerned about his plight but seemingly less concerned about the overall situation..

The film is interspersed with disturbing reminders of how French Jews were seen as the “other” – the opening scene when a doctor examines a woman as he would a horse to detect Semitic traits (we later learn he’s a vet rather than a MD), a music hall performance where the audience laughs at and reviles a cruelly stereotypical portrayal, and the final harrowing scene where Mr. Klein realizes he is doomed in spite of all his efforts.

Good acting, including the smaller roles, including Jeanne Moreau as a wealthy woman. Delon has played this type of cool character before but mostly in crime films. Here the sociopathy is societal rather than tied to the criminal world and it’s ultimately chilling. Finally the depiction of 1940s Paris (sets, costumes, hairstyles, music) is perfectly done.

3.11GB | 2h 03m | 956×576 | mkv


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