Eyes Without a Face Review

When you’ve got a title like this you know that something’s going to be happening to someone’s face. It certainly builds up the sense of dread as you wonder what’s going to happen next. The film is definitely going for an ominous feel as there are long stretches of silence but ultimately the film just doesn’t land and I would give this one a thumbs down.

The movie starts with Louise tossing a body into the river on behalf of Genessier so nobody will suspect a thing. See, Genessier’s daughter was in a bad accident a while back and so her face is quite disfigured. He has decided to try getting someone else’s face to use in her place but no luck yet. Each face just hasn’t worked and he aims to continue performing these experiments. The cops notice that girls are going missing but they have no leads at present. Can they figure out what is going on before more bodies continue to pile up?

It’s your classic evil scientist scenario here with Genessier trying to justify what he is doing in the name of science and helping his daughter but the guy’s just crazy. He doesn’t feel anything with murdering all of these innocent bystanders and was also running experiments on his dogs. Definitely checks off all the boxes for this kind of insane villain. You’re just hoping the heroes can put an end to him before too much goes on.

While this isn’t the kind of film that has a lot of deaths or anything like that, we do get a rather brutal surgical scene where someone’s face is removed. That almost seems out of place in what is otherwise a very tame film. It certainly sets the stage for how this guy is insane though. You’ll want to tune out for this moment but otherwise there aren’t many other intense moments like that. Someone does jump off of a building (Well more like pushed) at one point though and we see the aftermath.

It goes without saying that Genessier just doesn’t make for a great villain because we’ve seen a million evil scientists before and most of them were more interesting. The goal of wanting to help his daughter could have made him more interesting but that plot point isn’t played up as much as it could have been. If anything this seems more like an excuse and Genessier was going to do whatever he wanted anyway. This just gave him his justification for going the extra mile.

Christiane is the daughter in question and she’s had a rough time of it because her face was severely injured after the car crash. She seems to have lost a lot of her empathy over time though as she just watches Genessier murder these innocent women. She finally steps up near the end of the flick which was good but it was just so late into the game.

Meanwhile you have Jacques who was engaged to Christiane but believes her to be dead after Genessier framed that situation. He comes in handy since he is the one who starts to tip off the police but unfortunately he doesn’t have a lot of evidence and doesn’t investigate the situation as much as he should have. If not for Christiane taking the situation into her own hands then he ultimately wouldn’t have ended up helping out all that much.

Louise is Genessier’s right hand woman and she is certainly devoted to the cause of helping him out. No matter how corrupt he gets, she is willing to do the dirty work. We learn that he helped heal her face in the past but you’d like to think that she would have still stopped him once he became a mass murderer. Devotion being placed into the wrong person is always quite tragic. No excuses for her, she’s just as guilty as he is.

Finally you have Paulette who is used as bait by the police to try and see what’s going on here. Unfortunately they don’t do a very good job of this. It’s always a bit irritating when you use someone as bait but don’t actually have someone around to help if things go sideways. They didn’t think to have at least one officer outside to make sure that she got home all right? That seems like a really big oversight into the entire plan. By all accounts Paulette would have been dead if there wasn’t some outside help.

The Inspector loses some points there but otherwise he was a fun character. In a way he reminded me of Poirot, not just because their names were similar but he had those kinds of mannerisms too. The guy seemed to know what he was doing so the plan being so bad was an outlier I suppose. Ideally this would have made the doctor even more of a suspect later on but by then it would just be too late.

This film goes through the motions of being an evil scientist film and the pacing is decent, but ultimately I would not say that it was a good movie. The surgery scene is iffy and seeing the before and after pictures of the face can also be a bit disturbing. The Doctor gets away with a whole lot here and while it was nice to see him taken down by the dogs at the end, you feel like he got away with way too much before the film was over.

I will give the film credit in one area though which is that the soundtrack was actually rather decent. There’s a circus theme that plays several times during the film and it’s actually the villain theme. You wouldn’t really guess that at first since it seems so upbeat but maybe that’s to show just how shady these villains really are. That to them, murder and kidnapping is as normal a thing as going to a circus. Perhaps that is reading too much into it though.

Overall, Eyes Without a Face is one of those films that reiterates why you must not lower your guard too much around strangers. If someone asks to show you a possible place to live and then tells you to get into the car…it’s not a good idea. Going anywhere at the drop of a hat when nobody knows where you are going is not a good idea. It was a safer time in this era but at the same time it’s why so many crimes would happen. Based on how easily the characters would follow total strangers, it seems like people were too relaxed. Give this film a pass and check something else out instead.

Overall 3/10

Le Samouraï Review

It’s time to look at a French thriller from a while back. The title may be a bit misleading though. I suppose it’s using the Samurai term more figuratively than anything but if Jef thinks of himself as a samurai then he’s quite mistaken. He’s just a common murderer trying to evade the cops long enough for the next job. This film was better than I had expected and gives a pretty satisfying case for you to watch unfold. We know that the main character is guilty so the suspense is in seeing how the cops will be able to arrest this guy.

The movie starts with Jef walking into a club. He nonchalantly walks all the way over to where the boss is and shoots him in front of everyone. He then returns to a Poker game with some of his associates. The cops quickly arrive and take him in as a suspect along with 99 other people. Jef manages to get out of there without being seen as guilty since most of the witnesses were unable to ID him. His bosses don’t like the fact that he was caught at all though and decide to put him down. Meanwhile the Policeman in charge of the investigation is confident that Jef is his man. He wasn’t able to prove it quit yet but he is determined to get the information so he has the Police tail Jef. Jef must now shake the mafia and the cops if he is to get out of this in one piece.

When your main character is actually the villain a film always has to walk a pretty fine line. It shouldn’t bother with trying to make the lead likable as it is far too late for that. The only option left is to have you root for the good guys here to take down the lead. You still need a lot of twists and turns involved here to keep things from being too easy though. It’s definitely interesting seeing this from the villain’s point of view and this movie makes the most of it. The police are given a lot of credit with the various tactics they use to try and catch him. Both sides look intelligent and have a lot of different plans at the ready. The excellent writing is part of what sells this film.

The Police chief instantly became the best character after just a few minutes with his character. He’s very sharp and has a good intuition. He plays things by the book and ultimately doesn’t cross any lines in trying to get his man. He just knows how to run an investigation and cover all of the bases. Tailing someone is pretty difficult, especially someone like Jef who is a professional but the unit here is quite good as well. Throughout the film the chief continues to pour on more and more pressure so that Jef will inevitably make a mistake and then they can slam him with everything they’ve got. Now that’s really high quality Policework.

As for Jef, he’s just your average hitman. He was paid to take someone out and he did. The piano player Valerie questions why he would do it and he even explains that his targets may or may not be good people. It doesn’t matter to him, he just wants the money. Valerie’s character is an interesting one since Jef has some theories on her but the film never goes out of its way to tell us if we should believe him or not. I’m inclined to think that he is right based upon the final mission of the film though. She seems to be a loose end which would support his theory but was definitely an interesting character either way.

Jef plays the situations rather well for the most part although the final scene wasn’t a good play. This is intentional as it seems he wanted to stop causing trouble for someone but after going through all of this that just doesn’t seem like the way to go about things. If anything it puts the heroine in some more trouble since this doesn’t really help her case. Jef’s character is very robotic in how he goes about his business. Even by the end of the film we really don’t know almost anything about his character and that’s good with me. The mystique behind everything going on is part of what makes the Noir genre so much fun.

The heroine Jane is also interesting. She’s definitely very loyal to Jef and that’s part of the tragic element here. It’s always a shame to see a character like that get in with the wrong crowd. That said, it’s not like she’s a good person either. It seems like she is playing the field and turns out to be as much of a crook as Jef. In a way that makes them perfect for each other and cuts the sympathy points down even further for both of them. There’s never any doubt on your side as to who you should be rooting for. So that’s a good thing, the writers knew what they were doing.

it’s also just a very fun movie to watch because you get a good understanding of the police procedures in France. It’s a little different and very methodical. I liked seeing them try different experiments like having the suspects switch clothing and line up. The chief definitely was very thorough in the measures he was using and it’s easy to see why he did so well. I do think the audio bug was a super longshot that was never going to work but I suppose he had to at least give it a try right? It’s not like there was much harm in the attempt since Jef was on guard anyway. There were also quite a lot of agents running around which was fun to see as they tried keeping tabs on him.

Overall, Le Samourai is definitely a solid film. It’s a low key thriller so don’t expect a lot of shots or anything like that. It’s more of a mental thriller as the characters play cat and mouse with each other. The police chief knows Jef is the guilty party but he does need solid evidence in order to convict him. That’s why Jef is able to be quite cocky about the whole thing since the alibi is so air tight. Then we’ve got his revenge trip on the mafia group. Their agent looks pretty naive the whole time so I assume he was new to the force. Otherwise he just looks awful in one scene that occurs. You may chuckle at that moment even if the rest of the film is super serious. The ending is also satisfying which is the right way to cap things off.

Overall 7/10

Paths of Glory

It’s time for an old war film that takes place in France. It certainly doesn’t make the country look all that good though and it’s not exactly a feel good film. The movie is based on true events so I won’t be giving a rating on this post although you can probably get the jist of what I thought of it anyway. It’s a rather shady part of French history although every country seems to have a dark path at this point.

The plot of the movie is that France is unable to advance during a key battle. One of the commanders is pretty upset about this and orders that three French soldiers be executed for cowardice. Whether the charge is true or not is immaterial as he merely wishes to make a demonstration out of them to spur the rest of the force into action. One captain argues in their defense, but it is too late as the court hearing is just for show. Their executions are to remain and remain they do. It’s a rather somber ending to the film as a result and the captain has to head back to the barracks and prepare for more fighting.

It’s easy to see why a country like France didn’t do so well during the World Wars if they were engaging in these kinds of acts. They had the soldiers draw straws to see who would be executed in one division because none of them had actually run from battle. It was merely an empty charge, but one that had to be obeyed nonetheless. It’s a shame that none of the soldiers could be saved. They really got the raw end of the deal here and the rest of the soldiers would definitely be pretty bitter about this. If your only two options are a suicide run into enemy territory or being executed at home for not trying hard enough, it’s easy to also see how soldiers could just defect to the enemy side.

Making the movie even more somber is that one soldier’s friend is gunned down by the general by mistake and then the general submits him to be one of the soldiers to be executed so there are no witnesses. The general even ends up being one of the guys who gives the command to be fired. This was done intentionally to completely sow the seeds of the hierarchy. It showed that the soldiers had to follow any order, no matter how over the top and crazy it could be.

It goes back to the question of when it is acceptable to disobey an order. In the army, you are expected to listen to your commander without reservation, but anyone with a lick of common sense should know that this isn’t always the case. If you are given a morally wrong order, I should hope that you would not listen to it. Even if everyone tells you it is the right thing to do, it doesn’t mean that it is. Unfortunately, group think and mob mentality are two very real concepts and in the end nobody was able to step in to save these men in the film. It’s unfortunate, but they really didn’t have much of a chance. There was always going to be a scape goat in this situation and hundreds of soldiers died in vain. We try to forget these bleak moments in history, but there’s always another one around the bend. It’s why history is always fascinating, but depressing at the same times. The further back in time you go, the more tales of horror you will end up hearing.

Overall, I don’t know how faithful of an adaption this was, but it got the message across pretty smoothly. If you’re interested in history or strongly believe that the army was infallible back in the day, then this could be an educational watch for you. Just keep in mind that this film is very somber and since it is based on the true story, there is no happy ending. The situation just gets bleaker and bleaker until the film just ends. There are no winners in this tale and no perfect climax. You just see the soldiers grow saddened as their execution grows closer and closer. They panic and do everything that they can to get out of it, but there’s just no escape…and then it’s the end for them. The other soldiers go back to partying as their way of coping and you’re left to be reminded of why war is always a bad thing. It should also help you appreciate America’s democracy a little more. I like to believe that our Court System wouldn’t have allowed such a case to have gone so far and would have overturned the charges. I am somewhat bias for America though.