BON VOYAGE Studio: Columbia Tri-Star Year: 2003 Rated: PG-13 Film Length: 115 Minutes Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Audio: DD 5.1 Color/B&W: color Languages: French Subtitles: English, Portugese, Spanish MSRP: $29.95 The Feature I had the opportunity to see Bon Voyage last winter at the Portland International Film Festival, and was impressed with its performances and its wit. Its subject matter – a murder mystery crossed with a romantic comedy, set as the Nazi’s stage their invasion of France – didn’t veer toward embarrassing treacle or tiresome solemnity. What I wasn’t impressed with, at the time, was the projection. The image was washed out and dull, though many of the sets (abandoned Paris streets; ancient, crumbling villas) had the potential to be stunning. As is the case at many smaller festivals, the presentation is always suspect. Amateur volunteer projectionists and screening rooms in museum basements always make me long for the comfort of my home theater. Put simply, I was looking forward to this disc. In that context, I was mildly disappointed. It’s certainly a well made film, but is perhaps not as subtle in its historical content, treating the invading Nazi’s as bogeymen and trying harder than I’d realized to make sense of France’s quick surrender to them. It’s certainly a delicate moment in that nations long history of delicate moments, but a little introspection would go a long way. Still, it’s a fine film with an outside shot at this year’s best foreign film Oscar. Picture The softness I noted theatrically was apparently not entirely the fault of the pimply festival projectionist. It’s not really an objectionable look, but it doesn’t particularly suit the subject matter. For the most part, colors are pleasingly under-saturated, and shadow detail, especially noticeable in two scenes (one at the beginning and one at the end) is fantastic, even on my projector which isn’t known for rendering such detail well. The early scene in the prison kitchen is beautifully lit, and the transfer definitely does it justice. For whatever reason, tight shots are quite enjoyable while longer shots are murky with ringing and haloing apparent. It’s a shame because, as I mentioned, some of the set pieces are fabulously designed and executed. Sound It’s tough to judge the clarity of dialogue in a foreign film, particularly a French one, which always sounds slightly slurred anyway. And this film is all dialogue. The sound field only achieves three dimensionality in a few scenes, mostly crowd shots. A cylindrical prison hall echoes nicely, and a few important gunshots (I’ll say no more) crack realistically. It’s well-mixed, and a ‘better’ soundtrack would benefit the film not a whit. Special Features The only offering here is a director’s commentary. It’s fairly enlightening if you’re concerned with the details of the production. There is some commentary that refers to the historical content of the film, and it’s infinitely more enjoyable than the fairly mundane details of the shooting. Conclusion This is a decent delivery of a good film. It’s a small film, and very French, and there’s no reason for Sony to break the bank on the disc. On the strength of the film, it’s definitely worthy of rental for fans of French films, historical dramas, or well-executed melodrama. But why the high MSRP, when there are no extras involved?