The Pact of Silence (Pacte du Silence, Le) (2003)

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Released 10-Dec-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Dolby Digital Trailer-City
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Borderline, Darkness Falls
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 84:57 (Case: 88)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Graham Guit
Legende Entreprises
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Gérard Depardieu
Élodie Bouchez
Carmen Maura
Isaac Sharry
Tsilla Chelton
Estelle Larrivaz
Anne Le Ny
Wojciech Pszoniak
Isabelle Candelier
Hervé Pierre
Manuela Gourary
Philippe Du Janerand
Marie-Sohna Conde
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Alexandre Desplat

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Russian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French 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
English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Le Pacte du Silence is a minor mystery from France of interest because of the stars: Gérard Depardieu and Élodie Bouchez.

    In the beginning the story is somewhat confusing, though this appears to be intentional. Depardieu plays Father Joachim, a doctor-priest who treats Sister Sarah (Bouchez), a young nun suffering stomach cramps from an unknown cause. The Mother Superior, played by Carmen Maura, seems reluctant to allow Sister Sarah out of her clutches, and eventually removes her to the convent in Brazil. Meanwhile, another character played by Bouchez, whom we later learn is her sister Gaëlle, is in prison in France for a heinous crime.

    Father Joachim seeks to get to the bottom of the mystery about Sister Sarah, and back in France he meets Gaëlle who has just been released from prison. Events take several unusual turns, and Father Joachim smuggles Gaëlle into Brazil dressed as a nun...

    This is a very low key mystery story, with some obvious plot twists, and some quite unbelievable ones. Bouchez is good as the two sisters, while Depardieu is serious and a little bland as the priest. Carmen Maura is wasted as the Mother Superior, as is Wojciech Pszoniak as Father Joachim's superior. The screenplay seems to be a little underdeveloped, as I did not always grasp the motivations of the characters. The direction by Graham Guit (pronounced "git") is mostly adequate but not convincing. The audio commentary explains why, I think.

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Transfer Quality


    The video afforded to this film is satisfactory but not exceptional.

    The film is presented in a aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is not ideally sharp, probably due to overcompression to fit the film on a single layer. Shadow detail is good, and the transfer is bright, thanks to much of the film being shot outdoors or on well lit sets. Colour is good, with flesh tones being accurate, though some of the colours are drab.

    Disappointingly, edge enhancement was noticeable throughout much of the film, most obviously at 3:33, 30:50, 46:27 and 61:59. There was also a minor instance of aliasing at 71:06.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio transfer was quite good.

    The default audio track was French Dolby Digital 5.1. There are also Italian, Spanish and Russian language soundtracks.

    Dialogue was clear, although as it was in French I had no idea what was being said. Audio on the French soundtrack was in sync throughout, though the alternative dubbed soundtracks were obviously not in sync. These seemed to offer different acoustics as well, which might be distracting if this is the listening preference.

    The music score by Alexandre Desplat was often less than subtle, but it was generally appropriate for the material.

    Surround channels were used sensibly, with the rear channels enhancing the ambience of the sound image without drawing attention to themselves. Similarly the subwoofer was only used to fill in low level sounds, and was used sparingly.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The main menu is animated with a short clip from the beginning of the film.

Audio Commentary

    The commentary is presented in French with optional English subtitles. The commentary is by Élodie Bouchez and Graham Guit. This commentary is quite dull to begin with, as they simply comment on the action appearing on screen, and there are a few quiet spots. As the commentary progresses, there are a few interesting things said about the location filming, the relationship of the other actors to Depardieu and the casting of the film. Guit mentions four times during the first 15 minutes that the script was written by someone else, and that he didn't always understand it, so he appears to be suggesting that his heart wasn't in the project. He also says that he had trouble with the producers, but unfortunately does not go into any detail. He also says that the released film was different to his original cut, and shorter, but we do not get any details on the director's cut. Perhaps that is being withheld for the two disc Collectors Edition...

    The commentary is interesting enough to listen to once, but is not sufficiently absorbing for repeated listening.


    Three trailers are provided:

    Le Pacte du Silence (1:31)

    This is the US trailer to the film, presented in non-16x9 enhanced format with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. This has basically the same video quality as the main feature, and is worth watching to see the formulaic way the US distributors have represented the film in trailer form.

    Borderline (0:44)

    This trailer is presented in non-16x9 enhanced format with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

    Darkness Falls (1:50)

    This trailer is presented in 16x9 enhanced format with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

R4 vs R1

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

    This film has also been released on DVD in Region 1. Looking at the specifications and reviews of that release indicate that apart from being in NTSC format, it is identical to the Region 4 release.


    A minor but diverting mystery from France, this film might be worth a rental.

    The video quality is average.

    The audio quality is good.

    The audio commentary is of minor interest and is the only substantial extra.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Thursday, January 15, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V596 for surround channels; Yamaha AX-590 as power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Richter Harlequin; Rear: Pioneer S-R9; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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