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cast: Fabio Testi, Lou Castel, Mariangela Melato, Michel Aumont, and Michel Duchaussoy

director: Claude Chabrol

107 minutes (15) 1974 widescreen ratio 16:9
Fremantle / Arrow DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Andrew Hook
"This story is pure fiction and therefore not unimaginable."

So begins the movie, and this Parisian story of a bunch of misfit leftist terrorists feels quite pertinent to our post-9/11 world as Chabrol refuses to take sides in the narrative showing us that there is little difference between the terrorists and the government as each manipulate their circumstances towards their own ends.

Nada is the name adopted by the terrorists, a disparate clutch of individuals whose cause isn't specifically apparent and whose ranks include an alcoholic, mercenaries, idealists, and bored youth. The core members are Diaz (Fabio Testi), the main organiser of their plot to kidnap the US Ambassador to France, and who - when we first see him - resembles Clint Eastwood complete with hat and poncho; Treuffais (Michel Duchaussoy) whose political intellect is on the verge of collapse and who is ousted from the group because of it; and Epaulard (Maurice Garrel) - recruited as the expert. A crucial insight into the experienced Epaulard's mind comes shortly after he joins their operation. Holding a gun to his throat he cannot kill himself. Interestingly, later in the movie, he also cannot consummate his short relationship with fellow terrorist, Mariangela Melato. This impotence of intention reflects the success of the terrorists in their goal.

Nada stands the test of time precisely because it refuses to allow us to identify with either side. Whilst the terrorists kill a policeman as they escape from the brothel (rather comically, as it happens, but more disturbing because of it), the government's methods are equally underhand with the instructions given to the police - especially sadistic officer Goemond (Michel Aumont) - loose enough for sinister interpretation but also to be unwound into nothing the moment the shit hits the fan.

As the terrorists hold out in a deserted farmhouse it becomes increasingly obvious that the government has no intention of any of them surviving to achieve their 15 minutes of fame. The goal isn't to rescue the Ambassador but to totally discredit the terrorists. Whilst the movie subsequently loses a little of its momentum as Diaz goes briefly on the run, the cumulative effect is of a film that is honest and unflinching.

The film is not without its flaws. Despite the engaging characters they are also a little one-dimensional, and the subtitled dialogue is rather irritatingly translated at times ("See ya tonight" ... "if ya want," etc). According to another online review the film has also had 25 minutes cut from its original running time. However, this remains a powerful movie illustrating just how revolutionary ideals and government schemes are underpinned by shambolic behaviour and half-told truths.

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