End of the Line
26 March 2019
Washed-up boxer Jean-Paul Belmondo answers an ad for a secretary. It's Charles Vanel, a magnate whose brother has just been jailed for corruption. Vanel needs to get out of the country, pick up his money in New York and then fly to extradition-safe Venezuela. Belmondo goes with him. In New York, the bankers put him off, so they go on a road trip, ending up near New Orleans. Vanel grows weaker. Belmondo chafes at the situation. Locals try to get him to help kill the old man.

There's a sequence in which Belmondo goes to New Orleans and has an affair with Michèle Mercier, whose character is a French stripper called "Lou." This makes me think that writer-director Jean-Pierre Melville had the song "Frankie and Johnny" in mind, and that this is a love story with a tragic ending, with Belmondo on a voyage of self-discovery through an alien, idealized America of his own imagination How these pieces fit together is not clear; Melville had these bizarre ideas of how things worked that often bore no relationship to reality. The journey, wth Vanel occasionally providing insight into how Belmondo's character thinks, strikes me as something of a journey into the underworld. Melville's symbolism is so idiosyncratic, and the pacing so slow, that the movie is recondite and unsatisfactory.
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