Raised a Catholic, Robert Klein (Delon) is a successful art dealer in Nazi-occupied Paris, possessed of a chic apartment and beautiful mistress (Berge). He’s sufficiently indifferent to the horror surrounding him to buy artwork from fleeing Jews at bargain prices. But his life starts to change when he learns there’s another Robert Klein in Paris who’s Jewish and wanted by the authorities. Worse yet, it seems the two Kleins resemble each other. Mr. Klein now has to prove his identity by finding the other man. He starts playing detective, but soon becomes dangerously obsessed with his mission.
Joseph Losey’s dark, cynical thriller features Delon in one his finest acting roles. Playing against his pretty boy persona, here’s he’s aging fast, as a Kafkaesque nightmare unfolds for his character. The other Klein may be working for the Resistance, and victimizing him on purpose to confuse the authorities. Or is just a case of mistaken identity? We’re as keen to find out as Klein is. Moreau is fabulous in a brief bit as the other Klein’s wealthy lover. The film’s central theme of persecution was personal for Losey, who moved to Europe after being blacklisted in Hollywood. This rediscovered classic won the Cesar (France’s Oscar) for best film, and Criterion has lovingly restored it. Beautifully mounted and shot, “Mr. Klein” is well worth tracking down.