WHEN YOU READ THIS LETTER

After her parents die in an automobile accident, Thérèse, a young
woman on the verge of taking her vows, reluctantly leaves the convent
to return to Cannes and look after her teenage sister Irène. Unfortunately,
the two sisters are on a collision course with Max, a hustler and
compulsive womanizer played by matinee idol Philippe Lemaire as a
smalltime Don Juan apparently devoid of values but irresistible to all
who encounter him. Often overlooked, the third feature by Jean-Pierre
Melville, director of enduring classics such as The Samurai and Army
of Shadows, is in many ways an outlier: a melodrama with a focus on
female characters in a filmography known for its hard-boiled depictions
of taciturn gangsters and resistance fighters. Yet Melville’s trademark
moody atmosphere and pitch-black view of human relations lift
When You Read This Letter from melodrama to tragedy, creating a
gritty picture of life on the Riviera far removed from the glamor of film
festivals and private beaches. While often seen as a curio in Melville’s
body of work, When You Read This Letter’s unique tone, deft mise-enscène,
and strikingly candid presentation of a male predator ensure
that it is a film to be rediscovered.

DIRECTOR
Jean-Pierre Melville

SCREENPLAY
Jacques Deval

CAST
Juliette Gréco
Philippe Lemaire
Yvonne Sanson
Irene Galter

DETAILS
Drama
French
104 min.
France, Italy, 1953
DCP, DVD, Blu-Ray

DISTRIBUTOR
Rialto Pictures

PRICE RANGE
$350 DVD/Blu-Ray
$450 DCP