July 2, 1993 [Le Cercle Rouge]

Le Cercle Rouge, a twenty-plus-year-old movie by a director gone for twenty even, understands that crime is a profession and an act of self-expression--almost an art.  So despite the Inspector's Kafkaesque demeanor--a strangely menacing ghost-presence whose shape holds only because it's so certain of Universal Guilt--the criminals could care less about who deserves what; they simply act, their movements precise, their expressions of self so calm they seem almost disinterested.

But isn't there passion behind their lidded eyes? Aren't they willing to accept the Inspector's judgment without regret because the act is so satisfying, and their refusal to compromise so--I'll say it: honorable, despite the fact that they're thieves?  They may not deserve my pity, but they demand my attention.  Of course, they get it; they have to, it's the nature of the composition of their art: a smoothly balanced arc ending in a hail of bullets.  But, as cliched as it may be, I also admire them for being artists--the most highly regarded French occupation--maybe more une inclination--or better yet, aspiration of every clerk and surgeon, waiter and politician, who also hope that their movements may be precise and their posture relaxed, confident of every gesture despite the necessity of their red circle.


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