The Affair of the Necklace (2001)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 25-Sep-2002

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Listing-Cast & Crew
Audio Commentary-Charles Shyer (Director)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-15:04
Featurette-Designing Affair
Deleted Scenes-5 +/- commentary
Outtakes-4:16
Theatrical Trailer-1:23
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 112:48
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (62:58) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Charles Shyer
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Hilary Swank
Jonathan Pryce
Simon Baker
Adrien Brody
Brian Cox
Joely Richardson
Christopher Walken
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music David Newman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This film has been made with considerable effort from a great many people. It's quite nicely made, with a lot of attention to detail, some gorgeous cinematography, and good acting from many of the actors. But it has three main problems:

    The first problem, sad to say, is the lead actor, Hilary Swank — she is good-looking, and quite a decent actor — she captured an Oscar for her role in Boys Don't Cry, but she had help from the script, I suspect, something she doesn't get here. But she has not mastered the art of maintaining an accent; it's quite distracting to hear her voice vary from speech to speech, sometimes English, sometimes American, sometimes something else.

    The second problem is the large amounts of exposition provided in the form of narration from House Minister Breteuil (Brian Cox). His voice is very good for the narration, but there is just so much of it — I'm guessing that they wanted to tell too much story, and spent too much of their time on action that doesn't tell their story.

    The third problem is, however, the most unforgivable. The film is boring. I had great difficulty getting through it — I found myself longing for it to end. Somehow, a story of scandal and intrigue has been made tedious and dull.

    This film tells a story "based on true events". The real story is supposed to have been one of the key triggers for the French Revolution, a scandal that did a lot to destroy belief in the monarchy.

    There are two threads that eventually merge. The jewellers to the court of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette have made a huge necklace of diamonds (2,800 carats, they say — that's over 500g), and display it to the Queen (Joely Richardson), hoping she will buy it. She accuses them of having designed and made it for Madame Du Barry, and only offering it to her because Madame du Barry has been banished; she refuses to purchase it. This threatens to ruin the jewellers, because they have had to borrow the money to buy the stones.

    Nineteen years earlier, the Valois family had been denounced. The father was killed by royal soldiers, the mother died shortly thereafter, and Jeanne was rendered an orphan. Even as a child she becomes determined to reclaim her family name. Now she has made a marriage of convenience to the Count de la Motte (Adrien Brody), which gives her access to the royal court — her plan is to seek help from the Queen. Her first attempt to do so is naive in the extreme, and she is laughed at by a gigolo, Retaux de Vilette (Simon Baker), but he is attracted to her, and instructs her (cue a stack more exposition...) in the ways of intrigue at court. He aids her in approaching Cardinal Louis de Rohan (Jonathan Pryce) for patronage, helped by forged letters purporting to be from the Queen. She flourishes under his patronage. When she appears to have some influence, the jewellers approach her, hoping that she can persuade the Queen to buy the necklace. This gives her an idea of how she can get the large amount of money she needs to re-establish her family name and to get back her ancestral home...

    In some of the extras they explain that they did not want to make a pure period piece, they wanted something more "approachable" for a mainstream audience. This is troublesome: it's neither one thing (a true period drama), nor the other (a mainstream film).

    I'd love to be able to say that this was a masterpiece, comparable to Barry Lyndon, but it's not.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    This transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, with 16x9 enhancement. That is the original aspect ratio.

    The image is quite clear, and beautifully shot. Shadow detail is good (not perfect, but good). Film grain is not a problem, except in one shot at 54:26, which shows some grain in a night-time shot. There's no low-level noise.

    Colour is well-rendered, although the production design uses mostly lighter colours. There are moments where they deliberately manipulated the colour timing (such as giving a blue cast to the image), and this has been carried off well in the video transfer. There are no colour-related artefacts.

    There are no film artefacts. You always hope so, in a film this recent.

    There is no aliasing visible on a progressive system, and very little on a non-progressive one. There is no visible moiré. There are no MPEG artefacts.

    There are subtitles in English, French, and Italian, plus captions in English and Italian. I watched the English subtitles; they are accurate enough, well-timed, and easy to read.

    The disc is single-sided and dual layered, formatted RSDL. The layer change comes at 62:58 — it comes at a natural pause in a scene, and is invisible on some players, and only noticeable on others due to the length of the pause.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The soundtrack is provided in three languages, but I only listened to the English. It is Dolby Digital 5.1, at 384kbps. I also listened to the commentary, which is Dolby Digital 2.0, surround encoded, at 192kbps.

    The dialogue is clear and understandable, spoiled only by Hilary Swank's inability to control her accent. There are no obvious audio sync errors.

    David Newman's score is rather good. Some of it sounds like music of the period, but slightly off — I suspect it was played on modern instruments rather than those of the period. Other parts of the score are most definitely modern.

    The surrounds get quite a bit to do, including some rather neat directional sound effects. The subwoofer spends some of its time making ominous rumblings, but has little to do otherwise.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu is static with music. It's quite simple.

Cast and Crew

    This is a simple one page list of the major players.

Audio Commentary: director Charles Shyer

    It seems he hasn't done a lot of commentaries (he hasn't directed many films; he's more often a writer), and his inexperience shows. He repeats himself a lot, and he seems to run out of things to say at times. There's a lot of "oh, she is wonderful here", "he is marvellous". He spends some of his time complaining about differences between filming in the US and in Prague, including the lack of trained film dogs. But in between those he does impart some interesting snippets and useful information, including acknowledging aspects of the film that he really likes that were the work of others. This will never win an award for best commentary, but you might find it an interesting listen nonetheless.

Featurette: Behind the Scenes (15:04)

    A fairly lightweight making-of, with altogether too much footage from the film, and far too little real "behind-the-scenes" moments. It is full of spoilers - don't watch it before you see the film.

Featurette: Designing Affair (15:10)

    This piece concentrates on the work of the production designer (Alex McDowell) and the costume designer (Milena Canonero). Both of them worked hard, trying to keep things accurate to the period. This is quite a lengthy piece, but doesn't seem to say an awful lot — we get lots of shots of the costume designer fussing with one costume or another. It feels like 5 minutes worth of material blown out to 15 minutes.

Additional Scenes

    Most of these are deleted scenes, although one is an alternative opening. They can be viewed with or without the director's commentary, and played individually or en masse. They are not in as good condition as the film, are not 16x9 enhanced, and don't appear to have been colour-timed.

Gag Reel (4:16)

    Some of the shots we get to see here are funny, while others are the standard ones of actors flubbing lines and breaking up in laughter.

Theatrical Trailer (1:23)

    A normal sort of trailer, presented at 1.78:1 and 16x9 enhanced. Fewer spoilers than usual, which is interesting.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this disc was released earlier this year, but is essentially the same as this disc. By all reports, the R1 video transfer is not quite as good as this one, suggesting that we may have the better disc this time.

Summary

    A movie that failed to keep my attention, presented rather well on DVD.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    There are plenty of extras, and some of them are interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Thursday, October 16, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

Other Reviews
DVDownUnder - Kathryn T
AllZone4DVD - Melinda D
DVD Net - Martin F (read my bio)

Comments (Add) NONE