The Light (Équipier, L') (2004)
|Year Of Production||2004|
|Running Time||100:00 (Case: 104)|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Philippe Lioret|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Sometimes the most unheralded of films can bring the greatest joy. The Light (L'Equipier) is one such recent joy - a well scripted, well acted 2004 French romantic drama set against the raw and spectacular islands of the French coast. It is no masterpiece but The Light is an excellent diversion for a rainy day and carries an emotional punch that can linger for quite a while.
In the present day Camille (Anne Consigny) comes to the island of her birth, Quessant (Ursan in English), to sell the home of her deceased parents. In fact, they are long dead and Camille has been gone from the island for some time. She is there merely to complete the sale of the house to some wealthy Parisians - part of the gentrification of the once insular island community. Amongst the unread mail at the house is a book by one Antoine Cassendi detailing his short, turbulent time on the island. Confused by the concern shown by her elderly aunt over the seemingly innocous book, Camille begins to read …
It is 1963. A young Antoine (Gregori Derangere) comes to the island to take up a position as a lighthouse keeper. The lighthouse, La Jument, dominates the landscape (and graces the DVD cover). Anton is ruggedly handsome and strong - with one exception; his left hand is crippled for mysterious reasons associated with the Algerian War.
It's fair to say that Antoine is greeted with barely contained hostility on the island. Lighthouse-keeping is a family tradition and not only is Antoine totally inexperienced but he is taking the job for which one of the current lighthouse keepers is grooming their son.
Despite the displeasure Antoine is given a room in the house of one lighthouse-keeper Yvon Le Guen (Philippe Torreton) and his wife Mabe Le Guen (Cesar award winning actress Sandrine Bonnaire). It is the death of her father which has created the vacancy at the lighthouse.
Despite the town having generally turned against him, Antoine gains the attraction of the inkeeper's daughter, Brigitte (Emilie Dequenne) and, most importantly, awakens something in Mabe which they both struggle to conceal. Out on the lighthouse Yvon's hard exterior gradually begins to melt in the face of Antoine's very genuine demeanour. He becomes conflicted at the agreed plan idea of sending a letter to the lighthouse board asking that Antoine be removed.
It cheapens The Light to suggest that this is merely a story of an adulterous love triangle. The script, which is something of collaboration, is finely written with the melodrama kept well bubbling beneath the surface. Director Phillipe Lioret displays a wonderful lightness of touch injecting humour into some of the most dramatic scenes.
Performances from the cast are uniformly excellent. This is a film of looks and sighs and Derangere and Bonnaire excel at drawing the subtleties out of their performances so that the merest glance across a crowded room echoes like a thunderclap. Phillipe Torreton is also excellent as the conflicted husband. It also features the best performance by a cat since Breakfast at Tiffany's !
The quaint, elemental island of Quessant is a character in itself. Many will know the La Jument lighthouse from the extraordinary pictures taken in the late 80's of a lighthouse-keeper standing near an open door whilst thunderous waves threaten to engulf him. The photo has become one of the iconic images of lighthouses and the shooting of the film on location creates a sense of authenticity so strong that you can smell the sea air.
The Light has been little seen and even less reviewed (none of the IMDB reviews are in English). It did, however, get a spin on At The Movies with David Stratton and Margaret Pomerantz where a slightly disgruntled David pointed out that the French title means "the Assistant" and not "the light". Never mind, The Light is a far better title conveying the impressive and frightening landmark of La Jument and also the illumination which comes into the character's lives. As the film progresses the drama becomes more acute and there are some powerful revelations and realisations.
As said, The Light may not be a masterpiece but it is certainly a worthy edition to any DVD library for anyone who likes their French films or likes their romances wind swept.
According to IMDB The Light was shot on 35mm film. No details are given as to the original aspect ratio. This DVD comes in a 1.85:1 transfer. I have no reason to think that this was anything other than the original cinematic aspect ratio.
The DVD case describes the transfer as 16 x 9 enhanced. Again, I have no reason to doubt that information.
This is a solid transfer. It is true that the exteriors - particularly the open heath on the island and the forlorn lighthouse have a slightly hazy quality however this appears consistent with the look of the film, which is slightly dour, as well as the 1963 setting. In short, the image is a little on the soft side and lacking in the sharpness department. I haven't docked the score, however, as it seems to me a conscious decision on the part of the director.
Even with the ample space given to the film (without any extras) on this DVD-9 there is still some minor compression issues to be seen in the scenes shot on the ocean waves, however this problem is endemic to just about all standard definition films trying to cope with the complexity of sea spray.
The flesh tones are accurate and the colours are stable. The subtitles are yellow and easy to read.
The print itself is clear of any defects.
The Light comes with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack running at 384Kb/s and a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack running at 192Kb/s.
The sound is well separated in the surround track and there is a nice ambience to the environmental sounds. The sub-woofer comes into play whenever we hit the ocean but is otherwise rarely utilised. In truth the 2.0 track would probably have been adequate.
There are no technical problems with the sound.
Audio sync appears to be fine. The music is by Italian composer, Nikola Paovani who not only worked with Fellini but won an Oscar for his soundtrack to Life Is Beautiful. His work here is as subtle and delicate as the movie itself and is a perfect accompaniment. Also scattered through are some songs reflective of Brittany, with Celtic overtones.
|Surround Channel Use|
The only extra is a theatrical trailer which gives a good account of the on-screen smouldering!
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This DVD is available in Region 2 England and Region 2 France. The French edition appears to have extras but I can't tell if that is correct.
The Light is a little seen French film that deserves wider attention. Lioret is finishing his second film after The Light ( check out his 2006 film Don't Worry, I'm Fine) so it's time may well have passed. But for a rainy day nothing can beat the sound of the waves and the beating hearts!
The standard of the transfer is pretty good considering the modesty of the film. There are no real extras.
|DVD||Pioneer BDP-LX70A Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output|
|Display||Pioneer PDP-5000EX. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||JBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer|