Heart in Winter, A (Un Coeur en Hiver) (1992)

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Released 8-Mar-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Menu Audio
Trailer-Persona, Scenes From A Marriage, Fallen Angels
Trailer-Criminal Lovers, La Belle Noiseuse, Fanny & Alexander
Trailer-The Short Films Of Francois Ozon
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 100:06 (Case: 105)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Claude Sautet
Studio
Distributor
Film par Film
Accent Film Entertainment
Starring Daniel Auteuil
Emmanuelle Béart
André Dussollier
Élisabeth Bourgine
Brigitte Catillon
Myriam Boyer
Jean-Claude Bouillaud
Stanislas Carré de Malberg
Dominique De Williencourt
Jeffrey Grice
Luben Yordanoff
Nanou Garcia
François Domange
Case Amaray-Opaque-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Maurice Ravel


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Stephane (Daniel Auteuil) works with violins, repairing broken ones, adjusting those that have lost their sound, and he even makes them. His partner Maxime (André Dussollier) is the salesman of the business. He seeks out customers and their violins. Stephane is a cold soul whose life revolves around his work. While he is able to communicate with others, including his friend Helene (Élisabeth Bourgine), he does not connect on an emotional level with anyone. Maxime is more outgoing, and so the two partners complement each other.

    Maxime introduces Stephane to his new lover, violinist Camille (Emmanuelle Béart). Camille is attracted to him, while Stephane's feelings seem ambivalent. On the surface he seems calm and attentive, but Camille's feelings for him are not reciprocated. His heart is as cold as the winter of the title, or so it seems.

    This film by the late Claude Sautet weaves a lot of strands into what on the surface appears to be a simple plot. But there is a lot more going on than simply a tale of unrequited love. In his advancing years (he was 68 in 1992) Sautet turned towards an uncritical depiction of love, friendship, human interaction and even death, something that would characterise his final film, Nelly et Monsieur Arnaud, also starring Béart. He does so with considerable warmth, even though his central character is as cold as the grave. It seems not to matter, as the film is so well made and acted that it is engrossing nonetheless. There does not appear to be a wasted shot or scene in it, all of them beautifully composed and edited, and it is difficult to imagine it being better.

    Auteuil is the central character of the film, but he is called upon to act with considerable restraint, masking the internal feelings of the character. It is a credit to him that Stephane seems real and does not slide into caricature. Béart, whom he was to marry the following year, gives one of her best portrayals as a dedicated artist whose emotions occasionally get the better of her despite her best efforts. Her rendering of the internal passions that drive this young woman is superb. André Dussollier can often be an annoying actor with all the technique showing, but here he is admirably restrained and all the more compelling for it. The rest of the supporting cast is flawless.

    I find it bemusing that other reviewers call this film "snail-paced" or say that nothing happens in it. Well, no-one gets shot or blown-up, the film unfolds at its own pace and the points it makes are not sledge-hammered home. It is never boring and always compelling, one of the best films of the 1990s. I hope that Áccent Entertainment follow this up with a release of Sautet's valedictory work Nelly et Monsieur Arnaud, which is even better in my opinion.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film gets an excellent transfer, which despite a few minor quibbles is one of the best video transfers of a non-American film of the early 1990s that I have seen. In fact it looks almost exactly as it must have look on initial release.

    The transfer is in the original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    Video is very sharp and clear, with a very film-like veneer of grain. The transfer is also very bright and clean, making the image quite vivid and not at all flat. Colour is excellent, with some vivid primary colours mixed with more reserved shades. Flesh tones are almost always lifelike, though a couple of times I thought they looked a little washed out. Blacks are solid and rich in the brightly lit scenes, but when the lighting is more subdued they look more blue than black, and some low level noise is present.

    In terms of compression artefacts, I noticed some slight posterization at times, for example in the background at the very end of the opening credits at 1:49. There was also a tendency for slight blurring of detail in motion, such as on the faces of the actors. This effect was quite mild for the most part.

    There are almost no film artefacts. There is an occasional white fleck but nothing more severe than that. There is though a circle visible fleetingly in the middle of the screen at 29:54, looking like a reel change marking in the wrong place.

    Optional English subtitles are provided. These are in a readable yellow font and are well timed. There are a couple of instances of untranslated dialogue, but I get the impression that these were not important to the understanding of the film. I noticed one instance of an American spelling of a word.

    This is a single-layer disc, so there is no layer change to report.

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

Audio

    A fine audio transfer complements the video transfer. The sole audio channel is French Dolby Digital 2.0, and there is surround encoding present.

    Dialogue is clear throughout, though being in French I only understood a handful of words. It seems well-recorded, with no distortion evident. It is not an especially dynamic stereo mix, but it gives a nice atmosphere. The music comes over superbly, and there are no problems with audio sync.

    When Dolby Pro Logic is engaged, the soundstage is very frontal, with not much in the way of discernable sounds coming from the rear channels and none from the subwoofer. Most of the audio is very centred, but when the music is heard there are some stereo effects. I have to say I preferred the standard two channel arrangement.

    Music from the two works by Maurice Ravel that Camille is recording are used as the score to this film, and very effectively. These are the Sonata for Violin and Piano and the Piano Trio. Incidentally, while the violinist heard on the soundtrack is Jean-Jacques Kantorow, Béart learnt the violin specifically for this role and her miming to the soundtrack is wholly convincing.

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

Extras

Menu Audio

    Ravel's music is heard with the menu.

Trailer-Persona, Scenes From A Marriage, Fallen Angels, Criminal Lovers, La Belle Noiseuse, Fanny & Alexander, The Short Films Of Francois Ozon (13:39)

    Trailers for other Áccent releases, in the midst of which is a disclaimer that the quality of the trailers is not indicative of the quality of the feature transfers.

R4 vs R1

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

    The UK Region 2 release of the film on DVD is by Second Sight. Judging by the reviews, the transfer quality is the same as the Region 4 (which is probably sourced from Second Sight or the same transfer that they used). There is a similar lack of extras, apparently not even a trailer.

Summary

    An excellent, intelligent French movie that justifies the use of the term art film.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is superb.

    There are no substantial extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
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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