Bob le Flambeur

Bob (Roger Duchesne) is an ageing gangster who, despite being a criminal, is generally a fairly decent guy. He did time for a robbery 20 years ago, but seems to have calmed down in his accelerating years. Paolo (Daniel Cauchy) is his protégé, and Bob has a friend in the police, whose life he saved many years ago. Bob’s one weakness is gambling and, for some time now, he’s been on a horrific losing streak, unable to pick up a single hand. When a situation arises in which Bob needs some money, he, Paolo and a few others concoct a one-last-job scheme to knock over a casino and set them up for life. bob Back in April last year, a nice fellow called Will from the blog Exploding Helicopter (and regular guest on the Lambcast) announced he’d never seen any of the Jurassic Park films. As I wanted to remain friends with him I felt it my duty to rectify this situation immediately, so hastily posted him by trilogy boxset. In return, he loaned me Bob le Flambeur and another film from Jean-Pierre Melville, Le Cercle Rouge. Like I said, this was back in April, and me being a fairly terribly person I’ve only just watched the first of these films, and the second is still unseen by me. I could thrown out any number of excuses – they’re French, and therefore subtitled, so I need to find the time to watch them without my partner, for example – but it all boils down to me being lazy and not getting my act together and watching these darn things. I’ve been borrowing One-Eyed Jacks from my grandmother for years now too. Regardless, I’ve finally gotten around to watching one of these films, so now it’s time to review it. bob-le-flambeur-1955-03-g I love heist movies. I think this love came from the first time I saw the likes of Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s 11 and Spike Lee’s Inside Man, the first of which I will need to be physically forced away from the television if I discover it playing at pretty much any time. It’s a damn near perfect film that I genuinely can’t fault. I love it, and no heist movie has ever gotten close. This is the point where most reviewers would write “Until now.” because they’d brought up Ocean’s 11 as a way into the review. Well, not me. I brought it up because I don’t plan reviews out ahead of time and that’s what I was thinking about. No, Bob le Flambeur doesn’t come close to Ocean’s 11, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good, because it is. The reason why, in my opinion, it isn’t as good as that film is because, despite this being billed to me as a heist movie, there isn’t actually that much of a heist in it. That’s a little bit of a spoiler, but not really, because as with most films, the crime being planned doesn’t exactly go to plan. The problem is, it takes such a long time getting to Bob even realising he needs to rob somewhere, let alone deciding where, how and with whom. That’s all fine though, because all the set-up and character building is welcome. screen-shot-2014-11-19-at-11-18-15-pm-e1417501635933 Bob has morals – he refuses to help a guy known as a pimp and woman-hitter, and when the attractive young Anne (Isabelle Corey) is kicked out of her lodgings he welcomes her into his home, without anything being expressed that she’ll be expected to pay for her board via some other methods. It’s clear that whilst Bob committed crimes in the past he is definitely a good guy, because he used the stolen money to help his friends, either getting them out of sticky situations or setting them up with reputable businesses to make a decent living. Yet Duchesne still imbues this presence of menace and power. He’s nice, yes, but there’s a bit of bulldog in there too, a barely contained raw energy that could snap at any moment. Many of the men he encounters appear to be greater physical specimens than Bob, but I always felt he could handle any one of them if the time and need arose. 1311966272Bob_le_Flambeur_5 The women in the film are a little underwritten, in that they seem to either be in need of saving or be responsible for screwing things up, but I’ll forgive that as a sign of the times. Elsewhere, a couple of scenes had an overly oppressive score that took away from the scene. For example, an early trial run at cracking a dummy safe is based entirely around the safecracker listening to the ticking of his tools. We, however, are not privy to such ticking, instead being forced to endure the swelling soundtrack, which seems to get even louder during that scene. Later, during another attempt, the score calms down and even goes away so we can actually hear what’s going on, so I can only assume it was added for that earlier sequence so the two would be different. Either way, it was annoying first time around. 5678525_orig I was a little disappointed by the climax, if only because I expected to see more of the crime being carried out – at least I got to see it earlier in a sequence showing the plan in action as it is described to the gang who will be implementing it, which is possibly the biggest sure-fire sign that this plan will never occur as it is being shown then, else why would it be shown twice? – but my biggest takeaway was simple. I really want to know how to play baccarat, because they play it here, and I had no idea what in the seven hells was going on. Choose Film 8/10

4 thoughts on “Bob le Flambeur

  1. Pingback: My Week in Movies, 2015 Week 0 | Life Vs Film

  2. I’ve read the James Bond books that say a lot about baccarat, but I still don’t understand it. I’m glad to read that you enjoyed it. I don’t mind the ending, but I get what you’re saying about the surprising way it goes. You should check out the remake The Good Thief with Nick Nolte. It might feel a little too familiar, but it’s well-done.

  3. Pingback: Le Cercle Rouge | Life Vs Film

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