Double Indemnity

Double Indemnity ★★★★★

Double Indemnity is a masterpiece and a milestone in noir cinema. The film has the merit of masterfully weaving the archetypes of the genre: the protagonist defeated by life, the dark lady and the obscure frame of an ineluctable fate, to which are added the long flash-back, the voiceover and the dialogues in balance between irony and cynical melodrama. All wrapped in an expressionist photograph that emphasizes the nocturnal atmosphere and reverberates in the dark and smoky interiors: to underline the distance from the glittering and hypocritical "American way of life".

The magnificent script written by Billy Wilder and Raimond Chandler is inspired by a "hard boiled" novel by James Cain. In the middle of the night a man suffering from a wound, records his confession in a tape recorder: «Yes, I killed him. I killed him for money and for a woman. I didn't get the money and I didn't get the woman. Pretty, isn't it?". The crucial action has already taken place, what has been is now irrevocable, fate has run its course. Double Indemnity is a film told by the murderer and built around his criminal design: a complex swindle against insurance companies, with the whirlwind of deceit, betrayal and violence that follows. True engine of the story, a woman as fascinating as she is perverse, fiercely determined to leave behind an anonymous and unsatisfying life. Wilder's use of his actors is interesting: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck and Edward G. Robinson (all wonderful and unforgettable here) face roles that are very distant, when not opposite, from those they usually play, to point out the underlying ambiguity of situations and characters.

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