Sorcerer

Sorcerer ★★★½

There are a couple of films* I've decided to watch because Mark 'Flappy Hands' Kermode refers to them a lot. He's a passionate and knowledgeable critic and, though my views don't always sync with his, he knows a metric tonne about film and I always learn a lot. Plus, he's funny and a lot less po-faced than almost any other critic, so there's that.

Sorcerer is one of those films, and I'm pretty glad I saw it. Not because I found it breathtaking (although I enjoyed it very much), but because it's not the sort of film I would have dug out on my own if I hadn't been led to it. It's a masterclass in tension: some scenes are absolute nail-biters, and the plot is strong enough to drive the whole thing forward well enough. I'm not familiar with the source material (The Wages of Fear by Georges Arnaud), or even the first film adaptation of the novel, but there's a very strong theme of masculinity in crisis throughout here.

I began to notice some techniques common to Friedkin's films – wide establishing shots; faces in the crowds being determined; desperate people doing desperate things... I've seen these used before in The French Connection and The Exorcist (amongst others), and so I enjoyed making connections I hadn't done previously. 'Late to the party' is my favourite look, if you hadn't already guessed.

In summary, worth tracking down, but not a film I feel the need to revisit. Solid performances all round, especially from Scheider, and kudos to Friedkin for making such a compelling narrative from some relatively unlikeable characters.

*no prizes for guessing what the other one is. Review coming as soon as I've fixed my DVD player...