• Sami Frey and Romy Schneider: mad love or romantic madness?

Though less essential than some of the other rediscoveries to play at the Gene Siskel Film Center in the past few months (Moi, Un Noir; Karayuki-San: The Making of a Prostitute), Claude Sautet’s Max et les Ferrailleurs nonetheless has been the most eye-opening for me. As I wrote last month, I hadn’t given much thought to Sautet prior to this revival, but the film pointed to a tough, cynical subtext behind the director’s genteel storytelling that I hadn’t considered before. Now I’m hooked. In the past month, I’ve checked out several other Sautet films, and it’s been a treat getting to know his unique sensibility. Broadly speaking all of his movies play on the same contradiction: on the one hand, they’re founded on intricate narrative structures that suggest a controlling, literary intelligence (appropriately enough, as Sautet was an in-demand script doctor for most of the 60s); on the other, their characters behave unpredictably and often in defiance of their better interests, as if undermining the order of the plots.