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Legacy Review

Serie Noire (1979)

Serie Noire is a bizarre French neo-noir of a man’s life flying off the rails when he connects with a teenaged prostitute.

Patrick Dewaere gives an electric lead performance as Franck, a neurotic, pathetic door-to-door salesman. When he crosses paths with Mona — an anti-femme fatale, light and loyal and mute — he finds himself stumbling deeper down a path where dark fantasies become messy indulgent realities.

Like plenty of noirs, the script is not the film’s strongest point. Too many scenes resolve into Franck in a shouting match with someone, character shading tossed to the wind in the name of sparks. Sometimes this works — a scene of Franck losing his cool and smashing his head into a car window is unforgettable. Other times, it’s just exhausting, like the repeated arguments with his estranged wife.

Serie Noire’s material is dark, but delivers a jolt of black comedy at its best moments. Dewaere absolutely carries the film, his scrambling mania and increasing desperation both hilarious and rawly humane.

It’s a good movie that never quite enters greatness: The script rarely plunges deep enough to deliver a true punch, and the visual identity is not as distinct as the story’s tone would suggest. At least Dewaere provides an excellent reason to watch.

Is It Good?

Good (5/8)

Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.


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