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Mr. Klein: Criterion Collection (1976) - Blu-ray Review

Mr. Klein: Criterion Collection

In the case of mistaken identity, how far would you go to clear your name and set the record straight? 

In Joseph Losey’s gritty and disturbing nightmare, Mr. Klein, the title character (played by French icon Alain Delon) becomes obsessed with tracking down a man who shares his name. Now, if this were an honest, one-time mistake, a resolution would perhaps be easily attainable. No harm, no foul. But this is occupied France, and Mr. Klein’s name-double is Jewish. 

"a very challenging film with a very heavy atmosphere. It shows an angle of World War II that is seldom shown on film"


Mr. Klein is an art dealer who, frankly, lives the kind of life as though World War II isn’t happening at all. Besides the Jews that bring him art through black market means, he has no connection to the war or the Jews that have been subject to persecution. The pretty-boy, fit Delon has no problem embracing the lavish lifestyle of expensive clothes, a woman that is at his beck and call, and cocktail parties with his bourgeoisie friends. But when a Jewish newspaper arrives at his front door, everything changes and so does Delon’s Mr. Klein.

He goes to the police, concerned, wanting to fix this mix-up. He’s not Jewish and never has been, but the police are suspicious. They won’t give him the other Klein’s address, and don’t seem to want to help him resolve this issue. That’s when Mr. Klein turns to being his own detective. He tries to track down the Jewish Mr. Klein. He receives more of his mail – this time things that are more personal. He ends up at a dinner party with the Jewish Mr. Klein’s mistress. Eventually, he gets all of his art and nice furniture repossessed because he cannot prove that he is not of Jewish decent. Is this all part of a plan by the Jewish Mr. Klein? That, we never seem to get a definitive answer to. Regardless of that, Mr. Klein wants to meet his name doppelgänger.Mr. Klein: Criterion Collection

Driven by obsession, this role is lightyears more challenging and more alive than the roles that we are used to seeing Alain Delon play. Unlike the crime thrillers that the stone-faced, cool star usually fronts, Mr. Klein has Delon displaying a whole range of emotions. With the obsession comes explosions of anger, frustration, confusion, and in the lighter moments, we see hints of enthusiastic joy. This is hands-down one of, if not the best role Delon has ever taken on.

I cannot help but feel that many will not like the ending. It is not at all satisfying and is anything but a happy ending. However, it is the best and only ending that makes sense. In an attempt to chase down his name double (whom we never see, by the way) during the Vél d’Hiv Roundup (an actual event that the film is based around), Mr. Klein ends up on a train that we can only assume will take him to a concentration camp. His own obsession – his own white whale – has destroyed him.

Mr. Klein is a very challenging film with a very heavy atmosphere. It shows an angle of World War II that is seldom shown on film. It criticizes those who had a complete indifference about the war, and it captures a time when France seemed to be having its own identity crisis just like Mr. Klein. It is a film that simmers with a perfect quiet suspense and will leave you feeling…a bit changed. Courtesy of Criterion Collection, this French drama has finally arrived on Blu Ray with a great new 4K restoration!

4/5 stars

 

Mr. Klein: Criterion Collection

Blu-ray Details

Home Video Distributor: Criterion
Available on Blu-ray
- May 10, 2022
Screen Formats: 1.66:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
French: LPCM Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

One of the crowning achievements of blacklisted Hollywood director Joseph Losey’s European exile, Mr. Klein is a spellbinding modernist mystery that puts a chilling twist on the wrong-man thriller. Alain Delon delivers a standout performance as Robert Klein, a decadent art dealer in Paris during World War II who makes a tidy profit buying up paintings from his desperate Jewish clients. As Klein searches for a Jewish man with the same name for whom he has been mistaken, he finds himself plunged into a Kafkaesque nightmare in which his identity seems to dissolve and the forces of history close in on him. Met with considerable controversy on its release for its portrayal of the real-life wrongdoings of the Vichy government, this haunting, disturbingly beautiful film shivers with existential dread as it traces a society’s descent into fascistic fear and inhumanity.

Video

Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1, the new 4K restoration taken from the 35 mm original camera negative is superb. The print is free of any tears or imperfections, and the new color balance gives a nice gritty, underground look with the cool grays and the green. The film grain is also balanced fairly well.

Audio

The new soundtrack restoration taken from the original 35 mm sound negative is clean, sharp, and clear. Dialogue, score, and sound effects are all mixed well in this monoaural soundtrack.

Supplements:

While the supplements lack the commentary, there is more than enough in the special features to greatly enhance the viewing of this film. With great interviews regarding the film and a wonderful documentary on the historical events that Mr. Klein is based around, audience appreciation for this dark tale will only grow.

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

  • Interviews with critic Michel Ciment and editor Henri Lanoë
  • Interviews from 1976 with director Joseph Losey and actor Alain Delon
  • Story of a Day, a 1986 documentary on the real-life Vél d’Hiv Roundup, a central historical element of Mr. Klein
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by film scholar Ginette Vincendeau

Blu-ray Rating

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 4/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

4/5 stars


Film Details

Mr. Klein: Criterion Collection

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime:
123 mins
Director
: Joseph Losey
Writer:
Franco Solinas
Cast:
Alain Delon; Jeanne Moreau; Francine Bergé
Genre
: Drama | Crime | Mystery
Tagline:
In the labyrinthine nightmare of the Occupation.
Memorable Movie Quote:
Theatrical Distributor:
Quartet Films
Official Site:
Release Date:
November 6, 1977
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
May 10, 2022
Synopsis: Mr. Klein puts a chilling twist on the wrong-man thriller. Alain Delon delivers a standout performance as Robert Klein, a decadent art dealer in Paris during World War II who makes a tidy profit buying up paintings from his desperate Jewish clients. As Klein searches for a Jewish man with the same name for whom he has been mistaken, he finds himself plunged into a Kafkaesque nightmare in which his identity seems to dissolve and the forces of history to close in on him. Met with considerable controversy on its release for its portrayal of the real-life wrongdoings of the Vichy government, this haunting, disturbingly beautiful film shivers with existential dread as it traces a society's descent into fascistic fear and inhumanity.

Art

Mr. Klein: Criterion Collection

 

 

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