The premise of Mr. Klein is intriguing, and it's well-acted and suspensefully paced. Yet it's not quite as effective a film as it could have been, owing largely to an unsatisfactory climax. There's also something of an overall failure of nerve to go as deeply into the dark side of the Nazi occupation of Paris as it might have, though there are plenty of hints to keep our attention. The assets of the film are substantial: a coolly elegant performance by Alain Delon in the lead role, strong two-faced supporting characters, and a slow-building sense of dread as Delon gets trapped by forces beyond his control or even comprehension. The main problem lies in the final few minutes, where much of what we know about the protagonist and his motives throughout the story seems at odds with the way he handles his ultimate fate. Delon's situation does mirror that of many Jews and dissidents in early-'40s France, and the film touches upon numerous interesting issues of integrity under fire; the exploitation of the most unfortunate members of society in a time when almost everyone's survival is in doubt; the fine line that sways us between adjusting to circumstances and risking retribution via resistance; and the almost Hitchcockian surreal panic that ensues from being falsely accused of being someone you're not.
by Richie Unterberger review