10 December 2021

Robert Hossein's Point de chute |Stumbling Block | Falling Point (1970)

Les Yeux cernés (1964) is the only other film of Robert Hossein's that I've seen, although I'd describe both of them as clever psychological thrillers. Catherine (Pascale Rivault) has been kidnapped and is being held hostage by Vlad (Johnny Hallyday) in a shack by the sea which resembles something that wouldn't be out of place in a western. Both Vlad and Catherine have nothing in common and nothing to say to each other, but Vlad has to ensure that she doesn't escape until he gets his share of the ransom from the other kidnappers: the 'caïd' (Robert Hossein) and the 'inspector' (Robert Dalban).

Unfortunately Vlad has allowed his mask to be taken off and Catherine has seen this, and the other two see that she's seen it. In an attempt to ensure that they'll get the money, the other two start a relatively mild form of torture on Catherine, recording her screams to send to her father. This disturbs Vlad, who proposes that she write a letter to her father to encourage him to pay the money, and the others agree to this, although they state that he must kill Catherine anyway as she has seen his face.

Catherine is aware that Vlad has a weak spot, that he has more humanity and the others, and tries to exploit this. In the end Vlad holds a gun to the others to allow Catherine to escape while he takes their car. But the car won't start and Vlad runs for it like the girl, the 'caïd' aims his rifle and shoots Vlad, the girl sees Vlad shot and she too is shot as she runs to him: the film finishes as Catherine dies just as it seems this unlikely couple are about to kiss. Unsettling, not exactly a run-of-the-mill movie.

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