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MR. KLEIN

Director: JOSEPH LOSEY

FRANCE-ITALY • 1976 • SUBTITLED • COLOUR • 35MM • 123 MIN.


In German-occupied France of 1942, Robert Klein (Alain Delon) is an unscrupulous dealer who buys art treasures at low prices from Jews anxious to leave the country. One day he receives a Jewish newspaper mistakenly addressed to him which seems to indicate there is another Robert Klein in Paris who is a Jew. Klein’s attempts to clear up this embarrassing state of affairs only serve to implicate him further in a labyrinthine sequence of events of increasing danger. Perhaps drawing on Losey’s own memories of persecution during the McCarthyist witch-hunt and chillingly evoking the atmosphere of fear in wartime France under Fascism, Mr Klein becomes both a thriller and a metaphysical quest: the pursuit after another man’s identity turns into a search for his own. Might the mysterious ‘other’ symbolise a redemptive subconscious which pulls the callous hero in a direction where he can no longer hide from the responsibility of his actions — or from himself? This is assuredly the finest of Losey’s late European films, the director revelling in a narrative of teasing twists; and Alain Delon’s ice-cold central performance, which elicits sympathy but eschews sentiment, is a supreme piece of understated film acting.

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