Sunday, July 08, 2007

Death of a Cyclist.

Juan Antonio Bardem | 1955 | 88 min | Spain

As a couple returns from an affair-tastic weekend in the county their car strikes a cyclist on the highway. They race away from the scene rather than help the stranger because they worry of their relationship being exposed + later learn that the cyclist has died. As the days pass, the two grow increasingly worried that their social circle is aware of their numerous misdeeds, with one friend in particular dropping several hints that they may want to consider sending a few pesetas his way. The couple's relationship begins to dissolve as they take every passing word as innuendo + become concerned with self preservation above all else.

The cast of characters in this picture travel in the world of post-war wealth + academia, + Bardem portays them as selfish boors without exception. Their conversations, pastimes, even their intrigues are banal + awful. Their world of privilege is neither deserved nor enjoyed. Death of a Cyclist wages the kind of cinematic class war that Luis Bunuel would take so much heat for fifteen years later. It is remarkable this film was allowed to see a release at all.

This is a modest but exceptional noir thriller. There are a couple predictable moments, but the expert delivery + catharsis of those climactic scenes make for a very satisfying film. A fantastic score aids the mood considerably, as well.

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