A Little Romance (1979)

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Released 19-Dec-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1979
Running Time 105:28
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By George Roy Hill
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Laurence Olivier
Diane Lane
Thelonious Bernard
Arthur Hill
Sally Kellerman
Broderick Crawford
David Dukes
Andrew Duncan
Claudette Sutherland
Graham Fletcher-Cook
Ashby Semple
Claude Brosset
Jacques Maury
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $14.95 Music Georges Delerue


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes, Incidental only
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     The cover art for this disc shows our main characters represented as if in a Seurat pointillistic painting - and how fitting an image this is. A Little Romance is a charming little study of light. It is delicate, high key and one dimensional, its perspective never really touched by portentous shadows or details, providing a little patch of dappled sunlight to one's cinematic world.

     George Roy Hill, a director who had previously given us such classics as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and The Sting suddenly found his sensitive side in his retelling of the novel E=MC2 Mon Amour by Patrick Cauvin (aka Claude Klotz), although he manages a wry wink to his audience by including those other two cinematic classics in this storyline.

     Daniel Michon (Thelonious Bernard) is a young French boy, intellectually gifted but motherless, and saddled with a gruff and boorish taxi driving father. We are introduced to him in his favourite escape activity - watching American movies. He has learned the English language and American manners through his regular forays into movie land, and he can recite dialogue from all his favourite films, which he does with a frequency that borders on irritation. His obsession with all things cinematic finds him sneaking on to the film set of a movie being made in his local Paris, with none other than the real life Broderick Crawford as the star turn. When he is shooed off the set, he discovers a leggy, long-haired teenaged American lass (a very young Diane Lane), ignoring all the chaos to concentrate on her book of Heidegger existentialism. She is an equally prodigious teen, and with the name Lauren, our Daniel feels compelled to become her Bogie. They strike up an easy and sympathetic friendship in face of opposition from Lauren's social climbing mother, Kay King (Sally Kellerman).

     Our two love-struck teens get to know each other in a Parisian park, where a wayward soccer ball deflected off Daniel's foot downs a frail and dapper aged gent. Rushing to his aid, the pair thus become acquainted with one Julius Edmond Santorin (Sir Laurence Olivier). Reviving themselves with French pastries, Julius regales his guests with stories of his ambassadorial youth; the love of his life, Emilienne; recitations of Elizabeth Barrett-Browning, and the lovely legend of the Bridge of Sighs in Venice. It is said in Venetian legend, Julius avers, that should two lovers kiss in a gondola under the Bridge of Sighs at sunset when the bells of the Campanile toll, they will love each other forever.

     Lauren is enchanted by this delightful gent and his romantic stories, so when it is announced that her family are to return promptly to Texas, she hatches a plan to travel with Daniel to Venice to cement their relationship under the Bridge of Sighs against the imminent tyranny of distance. Their abscondment plans require the willing assistance of an adult conspirator, so Lauren creates a fiction to convince Julius to be their companion and co-conspirator.

     The story then becomes a gentle road film, beautifully photographed in the romantic settings of Verona and Venice and set to glorious musical strains of Vivaldi. The script is light and deft, with the 3 principal characters showing prodigious initiative in achieving their aims. Olivier has an absolute hoot playing the mischievous rogue Julius, and Lane and Bernard are remarkably subtle and natural in their performances. The other characters in the piece are left essentially mono-dimensional, with the adults generally coming off as quasi-developed, but this makes for a pleasant reversal from so many films where the adults take centre stage and children are presented as stereotypical cartoons.

     The adventures of Lauren, Daniel and Julius are delicately portrayed in an unapologetically sentimental light, and the story concludes as sweetly as a first kiss.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Given the age of this stock, the transfer can be described as reasonable. By no means could it be described as a good transfer, but the technical imperfections were fortunately not so abysmal as to mar the viewing experience. Let's just say it's a budget disc with a budget transfer to match.

     The disc is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, 16x9 enhanced, which is a close representation of its original source.

     The transfer is a touch on the soft side and the contrast becomes a little flat at times. However, there is not too much low level noise and grain levels are acceptable. There is quite good detail evident, although it is marred by some MPEG artefacts.

     The colours are generally very rich and accurate although there were occasional colour shifts that distracted the eye. Reds and primaries held well.

     There was evidence of chroma-shifting at 93:43 and 96:37 which created hazes of colours and destabilised the black areas of the picture at times. Aliasing occurred occasionally too, particularly on Diane Lane's unfortunately striped blouse. However, it was not overly distracting. There were incidents of motion blur, and some film to video artefacts - dust marks and clumsy edit points being the main culprits. Utilisation of edge enhancement occasionally became noticeable.

     Subtitles were generally accurate to the spoken word.

     This disc is single layered and single sided, with no layer change with which to contend.

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

Audio

     There is one single audio track on this DVD - English Dolby Digital 1.0.

     There were occasions when the dialogue was not as pristine as it could have been - but with all the audio information compressed into a single channel, that is possibly to be expected. This single channel rendering results in the audio appearing a little thin and tinny at times, which is a shame, since it does not provide the full scope to enjoy the Oscar winning score by Georges Delerue. The audio sync was also problematic.

     The musical score by Georges Delerue was a delight, and deservedly won an Oscar for his contribution. The liberal use of Vivaldi was an inspired decision, providing that delicate baroque musical breeze to waft lightly over the glorious images of Paris and Verona and Venice. Again, it is a shame that the limited audio available did no justice at all to this delicate and elegant score.

     The surround channels and subwoofer were left with nothing to do throughout this presentation.

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

Extras

     There were no extras on this disc.

Menu

     The menu design was static and silent and presented in a 16x9 ratio.

R4 vs R1

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

     The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:

     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:

     It appears that the technical specifications for both versions are the same, but if extras is what you're all about, then it will mean a win for the R1 version.

Summary

     Light, crisp and sweet as a chocolate éclair, this charming little film is a lovely escape into a kinder and gentler time. The two teenaged leads do a superb job and Laurence Olivier hams it up to the max in his role of the eccentric and charming Julius. The photography is lovingly captured, the settings are a romantic warm bath for the soul and the story is gentle and alluring. While the transfer leaves some things to be desired, don't let it perturb you from enjoying this glorious little charmer. Highly recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Mirella Roche-Parker (read my bio)
Friday, December 26, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDSinger SGD-001, using S-Video output
DisplayTeac 76cm Widescreen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTeac 5.1 integrated system
SpeakersTeac 5.1 integrated system

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