March 18, 2014: La Femme Nikita (1990)


Cast and Crew: Luc Besson (Director); Anne Parillaud, Tcheky Karyo, Jeanne Moreau, Jean Reno, Jean-Hughes Anglade

What It’s About: A young hoodlum (Anne Parillaud) is sentenced to life in prison for the death of a policeman, then given a difficult choice by a secretive black-ops agency: become a government killer or die.  She makes the obvious choice and becomes a chic, secretive assassin.  Her life becomes more complicated, however, when she introduces her boyfriend (Jean-Hughes Anglade) to her runner (Tcheky Karyo).  Besson regular Jean Reno makes an appearance as clean-up man Victor.

Why Watch it Today?: Luc Besson celebrates his 55th birthday today.  The popular French director was born on March 18, 1959.  Nikita was his first film to gain wide release in the United States, and it has had an enormous impact on the female-assassin genre.  (Remakes alone include Point of No Return (1993), and two television series.)  The success of the movie also had a great impact on Besson’s career; his next two films were big-impact thrillers Léon: The Professional (1994) and The Fifth Element (1997).  This film’s star, Anne Parillaud, was his then-wife.

La Femme Nikita is a stylish film, very much encapsulating its moment at the beginning of the Nineties.  Often gripping, occasionally goofy, it even at times reaches the level of emotional impact of a Melville film.  Enjoy.

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