un flic

released: 1972

directed by: Jean-Pierre Melville


written by: David Botros


Stupid me: always thought that Un Flic would translate to a flick, like a movie flick, like a movie about movies.

I guess I should have expected it to mean a French policeman coming from one of, if not the greatest, crime directors in cinema.

This one just so happens to be his last.

Simply put, the story is about bank robbers and what happens when you try to rob a bank.

Like all of the films I’ve seen from Melville, the actions are simple –

But the way they are presented to you is far from it.

I had to really think about what I’d seen to piece it together because whilst watching I was constantly trying to keep up, which, in the hands of someone who is a master of their craft, is a good thing.

Think Alfred Hitchcock’s set pieces brought to you by Christopher Nolan.

One thing I took particular notice of was the editing; the way shots would cut back and forth to create suspense.

Picture two people looking straight at each other with the camera right in between.

In one frame you have a man’s face, the other, a woman’s, and neither says a word.

You expect two shots, cutting from the man to the woman.

What Melville does is he splices two shots into several, cutting back quicker each time.

It’s uneasy.

I found myself expecting some sound or other abrupt signal to end the acceleration, but the film just carries on, leaving you with that tension.

Again: very simple, but incredibly effective.

Beyond the technical narrative techniques, Melville’s films are enshrouded in a unique visual look.

Everything is tinted a deep blue, a fog is almost always low to the ground, the sky constantly clouded.

It is foreboding but also kinda comforting in that European sort of way.

Although this movie is in French, one could likely follow along without subtitles, considering how much is presented without dialogue.

Purely action –

Watch for the train scene alone.


A stylish neo-noir crime flick (that’s not actually about flicks).

Copyright © 2021 David Botros