Nathalie... (2003)

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Released 15-Mar-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Making Of-Unsubtitled
Theatrical Trailer
Gallery-Photo
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Trailer-Read My Lips, Remember Me, Facing Windows, Since Otah Left
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 101:14
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (69:19) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Anne Fontaine
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Fanny Ardant
Emmanuelle Béart
Gérard Depardieu
Wladimir Yordanoff
Judith Magre
Rodolphe Pauly
Évelyne Dandry
Christian Aaron Boulogne
Aurore Auteuil
Idit Cebula
Sasha Rucavina
Macha Polikarpova
Marie Adam
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music Michael Nyman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/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 Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Gynaecologist Catherine (Fanny Ardant) discovers that her businessman husband Bernard (Gérard Depardieu) has been cheating on her. So, does she leave him? Hire a private detective to spy on him and find proof so that she can divorce him? Lose control and beat him over the head with one of her instruments?

    No, she does none of this. Instead, she hires a prostitute (Emmanuelle Béart) whom she christens "Nathalie" to seduce her husband. Ah, now that makes sense. So this is what "Nathalie" proceeds to do, each day reporting back to Catherine in considerable detail about what she and Bernard have been up to.

    I think the suggestion here is that (a) Catherine is not convinced that Bernard is really being unfaithful, so she wants proof, (b) that Catherine is really a voyeur who gets her kicks vicariously from Nathalie's reports or (c) Catherine and Nathalie are attracted to each other.

    This is a very well made and beautiful-looking film directed by Anne Fontaine, but unless you accept the central conceit of the screenplay, you will probably either find it boring or be infuriated by it. I guessed the twist in the plot before the 25-minute mark, but still I found myself enjoying the film, despite the silly storyline. Perhaps that is because of the presence of the photogenic Emmanuelle Béart.

    For me, the major flaw in the film is Fanny Ardant, who I am finding increasingly irritating with every film of hers I see. Her acting style seems to be to glide through every film as if she were an elegant model, flashing an enigmatic smile every now and then. I did not find myself sympathising with her character at all. Meanwhile, Depardieu does not really have much to do in this film, and the role could easily have been taken by another actor with a lower profile, which might have made the film more convincing in the long run.

    In a way this is a bit of a shaggy dog story, but if you are in the mood to suspend your disbelief it could be quite entertaining.

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Transfer Quality

Video

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

    This is a pretty sharp transfer with a fine level of detail visible. Shadow detail is excellent and contrast levels are likewise. Colour is generally muted, though this would have been a deliberate choice by the film-makers. There are some dark reds shown in low level lighting in the brothel sequence, for example. Flesh tones appear to be accurate, particularly in comparison to those shown in the trailer for the film. Black and white levels were both quite good.

    The only film to video artefact that I could detect was edge enhancement, and there was a lot of it. This issue appears throughout the film as a halo around objects and people, most noticeable where a dark foreground object appears against a lighter background.

    I did not notice any film artefacts whatsoever.

    Subtitles are burned in, and are in large white letters with US spelling. Otherwise they are good, well timed and with no noticeable omissions or errors.

    The film comes on an RSDL-formatted disc, with the layer change at 69:19 during a black screen between shots. It is not disruptive.

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

Audio

    The default audio track is French Dolby Digital 5.1.

    This is a pretty good sound mix. Dialogue is clear, though naturally it is in French. As a surround mix, this is a lot less busy than most recent films. Most of the sound comes across from the front channels, with only some ambient sounds and music from the rear channels. There were almost no low frequency effects. Even some thumping music did not elicit any response from the subwoofer. It was only at about the 81 minute mark that the subwoofer kicked into life, for a brief sequence in a dance club. This appears to be the only point in the film in which there are any low frequency effects.

    The audio comes across well otherwise, with no audible hiss or distortion.

    Original music is by the British composer Michael Nyman. You would expect that it would be fairly repetitive in his usual minimalistic style, and you would be right. For the most part it works, though there were a couple of sequences where I though a more subtle approach would have worked. His music is used relatively sparingly. There are also a few pieces of music not original to the film, such as the barman who plays a Joy Division song (Atmosphere I think) to Catherine in his car.

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

Extras

Main Menu Audio

    The static menu has the pole-dancing music as background.

Featurette - Making Of-Unsubtitled (28:27)

    Yes, that's correct, this is a "making of" piece that is in French without subtitles. It consists of a lot of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the actors and director. A pity then that I had no idea what was being said. It is in 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer (1:43)

    An original trailer for the film, which looks slightly washed out in comparison to the feature. It is a French trailer which concludes with the release date, and is letterboxed in widescreen.

Gallery - Photo

    29 photos, most of which are publicity stills, with a couple of shots of the director as well.

Biographies - Cast & Crew

    Text biographies of the three lead actors and the director.

Trailers - Read My Lips, Remember Me, Facing Windows, Since Otah Left (7:03)

    Three original trailers in French and Italian for these forthcoming releases. All are letterboxed in widescreen, that is, not 16x9 enhanced, and they have burned-in subtitles.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 2 French release seems to be very much the same except that it includes an audio commentary by Ardant and Fontaine. In French, without subtitles, of course.

    The film has been released in Region 1 in Canada, and the specifications look to be the same as the Region 4 release.

    A UK Region 2 release is slated for January 2005.

Summary

    This film is un histoire du chien à longs poils, to put it in the vernacular (I think).

    The video quality is very good apart from the edge enhancement.

    The audio quality is fine.

    The extras require a working knowledge of French for the most part.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Wednesday, November 10, 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.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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