Combustible Celluloid
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With: Michel Constantin, Jean Keraudy, Philippe Leroy, Raymond Meunier, Marc Michel, Andre Bervil, J. Paul Coquelin, Eddy Rasimi
Written by: Jean Aurel, Jacques Becker, Jose Giovanni, based on a novel by Jose Giovanni
Directed by: Jacques Becker
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: French with English subtitles
Running Time: 131
Date: 03/18/1960

Le Trou (1960)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

The Hole Truth

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director Jacques Becker was not a member of the French New Wave, but the young critics and directors looked up to him. His career began back in the 1930s as an assistant to Renoir, and he made only a handful of his own films, many of which deserve to be called "masterpiece." His final film, Le Trou, was released at around the same time as the ground-breakers Breathless and The 400 Blows, though Becker did not live to see its success. Le Trou is an amazing, perfectly crafted tale of an attempted prison break, based on a true story and featuring one of its real-life participants. Becker tells the story from the point of view of a baby-faced newcomer who's transferred to the plotters' cell just before they set their plan in motion. The four team members don't entirely trust the newcomer, and though Becker doesn't provide us with any information about the four original members, and plenty on the newcomer, we don't quite trust him either. It's a masterful playing of loyalties, not to mention the superb creation of rock-solid suspense. Le Trou was compared to Robert Bresson's great breakout film A Man Escaped, released a few years earlier, but the two films couldn't be more different. Criterion's DVD offers no extras but does boast a superb new transfer of this indispensable film.

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