- Apr 24, 2006
- Charlotte, NC
- Real Name
- Matt Hough
Dual-sided obsessions that turn into genuine love highlight François Truffaut’s Mississippi Mermaid, a film which focuses on personal demons and obsessive behaviors more strongly than in many of his more famous works. A sometimes torturous tale of disillusionment as much as a tale of perverse sexual allure that can’t be extinguished no matter the dastardly things that happen, the movie was not one of Truffaut’s biggest hits, but its reputation has improved over time, and since it features two of the most stunning looking creatures ever to appear before his camera, there is always something wonderful to see even if narratively there seem to be inconsistencies that are incessantly bothersome.
Distributed By: Twilight Time
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Run Time: 2 Hr. 3 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-raykeep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 06/09/2015
The Production Rating: 3.5/5
[This review contains spoilers about the initial plot twist and subsequent surprises found in Mississippi Mermaid.]
When his mail-order bride arrives at the port on the tiny island of Reunion off the African coast, tobacco factory owner Louis Mahé (Jean-Paul Belmondo) is not disappointed to find the woman standing before him is not the picture that she had previously sent him. Julie Roussel (Catherine Deneuve) is far more stunning and sophisticated, but he takes her at face value and happily marries her. The two spend some idyllic days together before Louis learns that Julie has practically cleaned out his entire bank account of 27 million francs and fled, her masquerade as the mail-order bride he had been expecting having been perfectly pulled off. After hearing from the real Julie’s sister (Nelly Borgeaud) and the two of them hiring a private detective (Michel Bouquet) to search for the con woman, Louis stumbles across Julie (real name Marion Vergano) in Nice where instead of exacting revenge on her for stealing his fortune, instead crumbles once again into her clutches, a pawn in whatever schemes she can hatch to continue to live the high life.
François Truffaut’s script (based on a tale by Cornell Woolrich) is a remarkable mixture of con caper and perverse romance making his anti-heroine Julie/Marion someone whom the audience never truly trusts again once her first betrayal is revealed. We sit by helplessly as we watch Belmondo’s malleable Louis continually fall into the clutches of one of Truffaut’s most infamous femmes fatale, and the couple’s degeneration is wittily reflected in the increasingly sleazy surroundings in which their stormy love match festers (in some ways, it becomes a French variation of Bonnie & Clyde). There are holes in the plot: Marion’s string-puller Richard (Roland Thénot) whom we see only briefly becomes an eye-rolling afterthought after the first half hour even though there is the unanswered question of that multi-million franc fortune that he’s absconded with and that neither Louis (who doesn’t value money much) and Marion (who worships money) seems very concerned with. The private detective Comolli and the Lyon police seem unsatisfyingly clairvoyant in being able to track the couple down with minimal effort (France isn’t THAT small a country), and if the film’s climax suggests that Marion has finally allowed herself to fall in love without a Plan B at the ready (mirroring Hitchcock’s Marnie and Vertigo in more than a few ways), it might have been nice to see that conveyed a little more strongly and a bit more hopefully.
It’s a great teaming of stars Jean-Paul Belmondo and Catherine Deneuve, both playing brilliantly against type: he as a milquetoast innocent and she as a ruthless schemer who’ll stop at nothing to get what she wants. Both are the very definition of movie stars, though, with their perfectly tailored clothes, stunning make-up, and well-coiffed hair styles that manage to look sensational even when they’re on the run, out of money, and living in a hovel. Everyone else has small roles to play: Marcel Berbert as Louis’ best friend and partner in the business, Michel Bouquet as the dogged detective (his topple down the stairs is one of the director’s most breathtaking set-ups), and Nelly Borgeaud as the concerned sister whose inquiry about her sister begins the unravelling of the first con game.
Video Rating: 3.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The film’s theatrical 2.35:1 aspect ratio is faithfully presented in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. While sharpness is good to excellent most of the time (close-ups show the stars in the best light), there are inconsistencies in sharpness and detail, and color can sometimes likewise be variable: at its best very good with exquisite skin tones but occasionally a little dated and flat looking. Black levels are quite good, but the picture does have age-related dust and dirt specks throughout, sometimes heavier and more problematic than others. The yellow English subtitles are very easy to read. The movie has been divided into 24 chapters.
Audio Rating: 4/5
The DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 sound mix is very age-appropriate with the dialogue recorded nicely and mixed well with the occasional Antoine Duhamel music cues and the sound effects into a more than acceptable mono track. Engineers have done an excellent job cleaning up any age-related problems with hiss or crackle offering an artifact-free aural environment.
Special Features Rating: 3/5
Audio Commentary: producer Nick Redman and film historian Julie Kirgo trade remarks and observations on the film and other Truffaut works as well as other works of international cinema through the lengthy film with them this time out spending perhaps a bit too much time describing what’s happening on screen rather than offering background information on the other actors and the production.
Isolated Score Track: presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo.
Theatrical Trailer (1:35, SD)
MGM 90th Anniversary Trailer (2:06, HD)
Six-Page Booklet: contains a nice set of color stills, original poster art on the back cover, and film historian Julie Kirgo’s pert analysis of the movie.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Mississippi Mermaid may not be François Truffaut’s most highly treasured film, but it offers a sophistication and complexity that many modern-day dramatic romance films are sadly lacking. There are only 3,000 copies of this Blu-ray available. Those interested should go to www.screenarchives.com to see if product is still in stock. Information about the movie can also be found via Facebook at www.facebook.com/twilighttimemovies.
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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