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A strange series of murders are being committed in Nice on the French riviera. The commissionaire Carella is in charge and tries desperately to find a missing link between all of these murders.Written by
Jean-Yves Simon <email@example.com>
By the end of 1971, "Dirty Harry" was released in the US, and "Sans mobile apparent" in France. Both do have clear similarities. One of the two was a groundbreaking cop-thriller, paving the way for the genre, the other one was quickly forgotten. Guess who is who?
Nice: A sniper kills four people. Ace cop Carella is searching for the missing link between the victims.
This is all you need to say about the plot, there is really not much more about it. Sure, the screenplay tries to add various aspects, but fails miserably. The biggest letdown is Carella himself. I've rarely seen an uber-cop as boring as him. He is noteworthy because he continuously washes his hand, and he is apparently the best marksman in the world (ridiculously exaggerated in one certain scene). But that's about it. There is a difference between being cool and annoying. I'm not sure Trintignant knew. Either he was bored to death when shooting this, or he was just wooden – I'd rather go for the first option. But then there are two instances in the movie when he smiles – this is so unintentionally funny it almost hurts. Well, to his defense, the screenplay just doesn't have anything in store for his character. Totally implausible he were in love with one of the victims (is Nice that small?) and would even quit duty at the end of the movie. This is not working at all. By 1971 the Italians did great "dirty cop" thrillers with Franco Nero, and the aforementioned "Dirty Harry" was in the starting blocks – compared to those charismatic guys Monsieur Carella is an utter disappointment. It's just not enough to have a title cards trying to sell that guy as a bad-ass adventurer
The screenplay does have a reasonable pace, at least enough to avoid total boredom. But the victims are killed quickly and you can tell minutes in advance who'll be next. Just in very few sequences some real tension and speed can be found, otherwise this is just tedious and resembles a TV procedural. The missing link then arrives out of the blue and is totally far-fetched. A poor excuse to connect the random victims, just to drag out the police investigation. No surprise then that the finale is just as rushed and constructed as the rest of the plot, failing to provide any tension.
Of course it's not all bad. The Mediterranean scenery is quite nice (let's forget about the shaky helicopter shots in the beginning), Ennio Morricone provides a very cool score. In a small role we get to see Laura Antonelli, whose striking beauty and fragility is quite memorable. Unfortunately she kind of overacts in one particular scene, but otherwise she is very convincing and a better screenplay would have capitalized on her character. And I basically liked the real-time approach in some sequences, but it's just done too rarely and without too much effect.
Overall I could recommend this to die-hard fans of Trintignant only. Anyone who just wants to see a good cop thriller should avoid it. There are plenty of better alternatives out there.
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