Johnny Hallyday plays the man who arrives in a village by train, with a leather jacket & a suitcase full of guns. In the 1960s, Hallyday was a sort of "French Elvis Presley" but in this film he is clearly a great actor, by no means novelty casting of someone famous in another sphere.
His character has a rendevouz with some fellow bankrobbers, but he's feeling world-weary & middle-aged & longs for another life.
Jean Rochefort is the lonely retired professor who still tutors a kid or two, recites poetry, chatters endlessly about anything or nothing, & wanders around in his inherited mansion which is crumbling & leaking for lack of sufficient funds to fix things up. He is feeling his years & thinks he may have wasted his life.
These two men meet by chance. The gangster instantly envies the professor's quiet literary life & habits. As the professor slowly realizes his guest is a criminal, he begins to envy the life of travel & adventure of the gangster.
The deep friendship that grows between these two men respectively in leather & tweed, from such different walks of life, what they see in each other that is enviable & pleasing, is the meat of this film.
As a "buddy film" of male bonding & genuine friendship, it is one of the most original & heartfelt films of its type I've ever seen. The acting is fantastic; both characters, with their distinct strengths & insecurities, seem totally real.
Theirs is the "human comedy" of the severist kind, & this tale of the Gangster & the Professor is a true gem of a movie, a throwback to when French cinema was beyond great.
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