Nada (1974)

In one of my earlier Chabrol reviews, I cited a review I’d found that said that film played at being a thriller without really being one. Nada kind of does the opposite by actually being a more conventional thriller of the sort I’d initially thought all the films I’ve reviewed in this box set so far would be. The film takes its title from the gang of extreme leftists who plot to kidnap an American ambassador, who doesn’t seem to be an actually bad person but, you know, symbol of imperialist power and all that. Things kind of go wrong even before the kidnapping when one of the gang decides he can’t go through with it, and needless to say the kidnapping itself doesn’t quite go as planned; once the authorities get on their case things certainly don’t improve, especially not when a take-no-prisoners thug is put in charge of the matter with the understanding that it might actually be better if the ambassador didn’t come out of this alive. All of this is prefaced by an amusing caption that says the film is fiction, therefore not unimaginable, and I think that’s the key to interpreting what comes after. Chabrol was a lifelong leftist, but the film speaks of disillusionment on that front; his “terrorists” are frankly ill-equipped to take on the state in the way they think they’re doing, and the state have not only more numbers and better weapons, they have even less regard for the human worth of those they’re up against… and, ultimately, equally little regard for their own (the Nada gang display something at least approximating to loyalty when it matters). The end result is, to be honest, overlong (could’ve been tightened by maybe 15-20 minutes, although apparently even this print is about 20 minutes shorter than the original), but there’s something resonant about its pessimism. Good stuff.

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