The last and perhaps finest film by Jacques Becker, director of the classics Casque d’Or and Touchez Pas au Grisbi and a mentor and inspiration to the young directors of the French New Wave, Le Trou is one of the most thrilling prison break films in history, yet also one of the least sensational. Based on the true story of a foiled escape, filmed primarily in La Santé, the Paris prison where the events took place, and starring a cast of non-actors including one of the original convicts, Le Trou absorbs by its attention to detail and duration: in long, carefully composed shots, Becker observes the smashing of a flagstone or the making of a periscope from everyday jailhouse objects, involving the viewer in the perilous minutia of the quest for freedom. The story focuses on four cellmates who are on the verge of carrying out a long-prepared escape when a young stranger from a wealthy background is assigned to their cell. The four men must decide whether to trust the newcomer or put off their getaway. Becker masterfully builds tension through his sparing, precise mise-en-scène, delivering a timeless meditation on fellowship and trust…and a
devastating final twist.