The French Connection

Director: William Friedkin

Country: USA

Year: 1971

Duration: 104 min

Languages: English, French, subtitled in Finnish

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In this hectic example of the hard-boiled cop movies of the 70s, two streetwise New York detectives with ethically ambiguous methods – “Popeye” Doyle (Oscar-winning actor Gene Hackman) and “Cloudy” Russo (Roy Scheider) – are obsessed with hunting down Alain Charnier (Fernando Rey who stumbled upon one of his best performances), the leader of an international heroin ring, who has just arrived from Marseille to NYC.

Morals, Popeye’s in particular, often seem to get blurred – it’s not about the journey but the destination! In a labyrinth of ingenious identity games, even including a Santa costume, the charmingly charismatic Charnier is in fact a much more likeable character than his shabby, raving counterpart.

The neurotic gaze of late William Friedkin’s camera wafts through the grime, structures, and architecture of the big city; the soundtrack is loaded with a heavy dose of communication on micro, macro, and hidden levels. Even the famous authentic car/train chase is every bit as risky as it looks: the director, madly chasing his vision, didn’t care about risking lives and ordered the crew to go full throttle. The film’s shocking dénouement offers more than a few chilling surprises for viewers expecting genre conventions.

Lauri Timonen