My Wife is an Actress (Ma Femme est une Actrice) (2001)

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Released 17-Feb-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Gallery-Photo-17
Isolated Musical Score-Soundtrack
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-The Taste Of Others, Va Savoir, Time Out
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 91:09
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Yvan Attal
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Charlotte Gainsbourg
Yvan Attal
Terence Stamp
Noémie Lvovsky
Laurent Bateau
Ludivine Sagnier
Lionel Abelanski
Keith Allen
Jo McInnes
Valérie Leboutte
Annette Hazanavicius
Jean Abelanski
Marie Denarnaud
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music Brad Mehldau


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, plugs for alcoholic beverages
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    In the decade after World War 2, there were a lot of American films that represented the fears of American men after the partial liberation of women during the war while the men were away. This often manifested itself in a simple plot: woman becomes successful, husband cannot handle his wife's success and either turns to drink or runs away. Often these films were set in the entertainment industry, where the woman was an actress, or singer or a songwriter. The message of these films seemed to be aimed at women: you can have a career or a man, but not both.

    Now we have a recent French variation on the theme. In the case of Ma Femme Est Une Actrice, it is not his wife's success that Yvan cannot handle, it is the attention she receives from others and the temptations that he imagines she is prey to.

    Yvan is a sports reporter married to Charlotte, a film star. Charlotte gets pestered by people in the street or in restaurants for her autograph. Yvan finds this irritating because it invades their privacy as a couple, but he is able to accept that this is one of the trappings of her success.

    Charlotte is cast in a film being made in London, where her leading man is an ageing sex symbol named John. While in a bar with his sister, Yvan is bailed up by a former lover of his sister who just happens to be passing. The questions he is asked about his wife's performance on screen, kissing other men and appearing naked, get under Yvan's skin to the jealousy and insecurity lurking there.

    The rest of the film has Yvan shuttling between Paris and London trying to calm his own fears and reassure himself. There is a silly subplot about Yvan's Jewish sister who is pregnant to her Gentile husband, and their arguments about circumcision, which has obviously been added to pad out the running time.

    Some of this film is fact and most is fiction. Yvan is played by Yvan Attal, an Israeli-born actor who also directed and wrote the screenplay. Charlotte is played by his real-life wife Charlotte Gainsbourg, the daughter of French popstar Serge Gainsbourg and English actress Jane Birkin. The film is obviously inspired by Attal's own real-life experience, though you would have to wonder why he would put himself and his wife through some of this film if it were based on real-life events. The incident in the bar did occur and was the basis of a 7 minute 1997 film made by Attal called I Got A Woman. That short has been expanded into this feature.

    Terence Stamp does a good job as the veteran English star John, though his performance is very low key at times. Ludivine Sagnier from Swimming Pool appears in a small role.

    This is a fairly lightweight piece with a lot of unresolved and/or undeveloped plot lines, but is nonetheless entertaining. It is also quite funny at times. Well worth a rental at the very least.

    Now, an annoyance: when inserting the disc, a trailer is played before the menu is displayed. This trailer can be skipped, thankfully, but manufacturers need to realise that if people buy these discs, they will not want this sort of irritation every time they want to watch the content. Trailers should be limited to the extras section only.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a good if unexceptional video transfer.

    The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is enhanced for 16x9 displays.

    The transfer is reasonably sharp. Shadow detail is adequate, and none of the action is missed or indistinct, although it looks like a layer of detail in the night scenes is missing. Colour is typical for French films: realistic but somewhat muted. Flesh tones are rendered adequately. Blacks are quite dark though some low level noise is present.

    Film to video artefacts are basically limited to some occasional edge enhancement, which is not intrusive. There is an amount of grain present, which while noticeable is not distracting.

    There were no noticeable film artefacts.

    As the film is situated in both Paris and London, the soundtrack is a mix of French and English. I would say about a quarter of the dialogue is in English. Optional English subtitles are provided, but only for the French dialogue. The subtitles are in yellow, which makes them easy to read but apparently some viewers find anything but white subtitles annoying. The subtitles are clear and grammatically correct. Not being a French speaker, I cannot comment on the accuracy of the translation, but there did not appear to be any untranslated dialogue.

    The film is presented on a single layered disc.

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

Audio

    The default audio track is a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, with an additional Dolby Digital 2.0 mix.

    The English dialogue is clear and easy to understand, so I expect the French dialogue is the same, though I do not speak the language.

    The balance of the surround mix is towards the screen, with very little for the rear channels or subwoofer. A slight surround effect is achieved through the faint signals coming from the rear channels. The subwoofer kicks into life only occasionally, such as when The Clash's London Calling is played, or when trains are shown speeding across the screen. The sound quality is very good, with speech rendered in a lifelike fashion and overall having a wide dynamic range. The soundtrack does not distract from the content, which helps you concentrate on the film and to get the most out of it.

    The original music score is from a small jazz group and was composed by Brad Mehldau. This is a very effective score which sets the ambience well. As mentioned, there is also some non-original music interpolated into the score.

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

Extras

Menu

    The static main menu has music from the soundtrack underscoring it.

Theatrical Trailer (1:23)

    This is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.

Photo Gallery

    17 stills from the film. As these are presented in a fairly small window against a static background, viewers with smaller displays will find this next to useless.

Soundtrack (0:50)

    No, this is not an isolated music track. It is just a graphic featuring the cover of the soundtrack with some of the music score playing. This is more like advertising than an extra.

Trailers

    Advertising rather than extras.

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 been released in Regions 1 and 2. The Region 1 and UK Region 2 appear to have the same content, and in comparison to these the Region 4 misses out on:

    By all accounts the commentary is quite a good one. The featurette gets mixed reviews. The subtitles on the disc are white with a black border. The transfer sounds like it is from a different source, as mention is made in some reviews of dirt and artefacts which do not seem to be in the Region 4 transfer.

    In addition, the French Region 2 has DTS sound, additional deleted scenes and the original short film, but does not have English subtitles. The extras tip the balance in favour of the Region 1 DVD due to PAL speedup on the Region 2 DVD.

Summary

    A lightweight French comedy-drama with engaging stars and a pleasant if undemanding storyline. Well worth a rental, though if you want to own it, you would be better off with the Region 1 for the extras.

    Video quality is above average.

    Audio quality is excellent.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Tuesday, March 02, 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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