La Petite Jerusalem (2005)

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Released 27-Sep-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Gallery-Photo
Trailer-Manuel Of Love, Turtles Can Fly, Russian Dolls
Trailer-The Beat My Heart Skipped
Rating ?
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 93:19
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Karin Albou
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Fanny Valette
Elsa Zylberstein
Bruno Todeschini
Hedi Tillette de Clermont-Tonnerre
Sonia Tahar
Michaël Cohen
Aurore Clément
François Marthouret
Saïda Bekkouche
Salah Teskouk
Case ?
RPI ? Music Cyril Morin


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

   Le Petite Jerusalem is a gentle drama which examines the conflict that occurs when human desire is pitted against the demands of orthodox faith.

    Laura (Fanny Valette) is a young Jewish woman living in a poor suburb of Paris called Le Petite Jerusalem. She lives with her widowed mother, her married sister Mathilde ( Elsa Zylberstein) and Mathilde's husband and their children. Laura is a philosophy student who has a picture of Kant in her bedroom. She struggles to distance herself from emotion in order to find purpose in her life. At night she takes long walks to emulate those taken by Kant in the belief that these will unify her purpose and keep her natural urges at bay. Her sister is in a similar well of despair. In her desire to keep true to the Talmud she has lost the physical love of her husband who has strayed from the nest. She simply doesn't understand how to make her husband happy in a way that does not conflict with her faith. Despite his indiscretions she remains devoted to him in a way that Laura finds difficult to understand.

    The film is overlayed with a dense patina of ritual and custom that is overwhelming for the viewer not acquainted with the strictures of orthodox faith. This may be offputting for some but ultimately the viewer is able to identify with the confusion of the characters in a way that matches their own.

    The real crisis for Laura comes when she meets an earnest Muslim at her cleaning job and forms a strong and mutual attraction. The drama of their relationship is slight and this is not a film of extremes. Without spoiling anything, this is not a film featuring a father knifing the interloper in the third act. Whilst writer/director Karin Albou introduces some racially motivated violence and destruction in the background it merely serves to contemporise the tale. This is not a political film. The crisis of faith is enough in these tight dramatic confines to create ripples of sadness as well as the hum of unknown desire. This is a very sensual film perhaps a result of how little flesh the men and women display in public. Thus each shot of an uncovered arm becomes a startling revelation.

    The cast comprises a blend of relatively new and some experienced French actors and they are perfectly in tune with the subtle, if philosophy laden, script (Albou shared an award for the script at the Cannes Film Festival in 2005) and the languorous and attractive cinematography. Fanny Valette is gorgeous in a Liv Tyler kind of way and Zylberstein (Mondigliani) is a class act playing brittle and wounded at the same time.

    If the film lacks in the high-stakes department it more than makes up for it in the gentle nuance of the performances and the rare insight it provides into a different world.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Le Petite Jerusalem was shot on 35mm film at the usual European widescreen ratio of 1.66:1. It comes to DVD in a 1.78:1 transfer which is 16x9 enhanced.

    The film is beautifully shot by cinematographer Laurent Brunet. The look of the film is sensual and the cinematography is lingering and close. It is not a particularly colourful film as the director emphasises the greys and greens of the characters of this world (I can't recall a single sunny day!) but the look is accurately rendered on DVD. The blacks are deep and shadow detail is uniformly good. Skin tones are suitably pale.

    The print itself is flawless and apart from mild grain has no artefacts or defects of any kind.

    The subtitles are clear and easy to read.

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

Audio

    The sound in Le Petite Jerusalem is French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s). Whilst the mono soundtrack was a surprise it still sounded quite good and delivered the dialogue that is the core of this movie with clarity.

    Audio sync appeared to be accurate and there were no technical problems with the sound.

    Original music is supplied by Cyril Morin who perfectly captures the yearning and mournful mood of the piece with his piano based score.

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

Extras

Unfortunately, Le Petite Jerusalem does not come with any real extras. Although I learned to live with the bewildering series of Jewish rituals featured in the film it would have been nice to get a short feature with some explanation of the meaning of each ritual.

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    This is a photo of Laura accompanied by a melancholic piano theme.

Gallery-Photo

    This is a short series of stills from the movie.

Trailer

    These are four trailers for Palace Films movies.

R4 vs R1

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

   Le Petite Jerusalem is not released in Region 1 until September 2006. I have noted that the French Region 2 edition contains several extra features including a commentary but I can't determine if it is subtitled. Assuming it isn't I would suggest the Region 4 unless you speak French (with some Hebrew thrown in!).

Summary

    Le Petite Jerusalem plays better on the small screen than it does in the above description. It is really an enjoyable light drama with a bit of philosophy and faith as its structure. Worth seeing for the performances alone it is a quality example of modern French cinema dealing with multicultural and multi-faith issues.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Monday, July 17, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDOnkyo DV-SP300, using Component output
DisplayNEC PlasmaSync 42" MP4 1024 x 768. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJBL Simply Cinema SCS178 5.1

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