Jaime N. Christley
In a 1994 interview, director Claude Sautet, who had a particular fondness for his Max et les Ferrailleurs, expressed directly and unequivocally his disdain for its protagonist, the police detective Max (Michel Piccoli), an efficient, dedicated policeman with no home life and a hard-won icy exterior. Cops like Max weren't new in 1971—not in French movies, not in the American thrillers and noirs that inspired the French film industry, not even in Sautet's work. But like a lady once said about a reporter, you may have met hard-boiled before, but Max, he's 10 minutes. He's also independently wealthy. What's interesting about Sautet's attitude, calling Max "venal," "twisted," and "childish," is that none of it is apparent in this policier. Sautet's style is direct and deceptively plain; regarding Max, the film resists judgment, neither condoning nor signposting the despicable nature of his choices.