DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Bon Voyage

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Nestor_Ramos, Aug 13, 2004.

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  1. Nestor_Ramos

    Nestor_Ramos Stunt Coordinator

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    [​IMG]

    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 It’s certainly a well made film, but is perhaps not as subtle in its historical content, treating the invading Nazi’s as bogeymen and trying harder than I’d realized to make sense of France’s quick surrender to them.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?
     
  2. Bill Parisho

    Bill Parisho Stunt Coordinator

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    You scared me there for a moment, Nestor. When I first saw the title I thought you were reviewing the horrible 1962 Disney comedy with Fred MacMurray(which also came out on DVD). However the movie you're talking about is excellent. It reminded me of a French version of an Alfred Hitchcock film. Well made and very entertaining.
    I saw this movie at one of those "art house theaters". I thought it would be a huge hit. It has an excellent cast.
    Maybe everybody will discover it on DVD.
    Nice review, Nestor.
    Bill Parisho
     
  3. Nestor_Ramos

    Nestor_Ramos Stunt Coordinator

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    Yeah, this is one of those films that is probably destined to be overlooked. Too bad, really. I think the lead actor has a bright future, at least.
     

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