A weary, small-time hood (Hallyday), looking like an old crow whose dulled eyes have trouble picking out shiny objects, arrives in a French town with bank robbery on his mind but no place to stay. He meets a gray-haired bachelor (Rochefort) who graciously, if oddly, invites him home. The host quickly figures out what's up—when a guest leaves pistols lying about, that happens—and is mesmerized by the crook's dangerous, downtrodden glamor. The crook perhaps envies the bachelor's lonely, genteel hours, given over to jigsaw puzzles and Schubert.
Yet neither picks up on the obvious homoerotic current that underlies their strange attraction. It's hard to say whether director Patrice Leconte, who gives this shruggable psychological fable a cool, silken surface, has a clue, either. Didn't anyone in France see La Cage aux Folles? (R)