The Age of Reason (Palace Films Collection) (2010)

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Released 1-Jun-2011

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer-(2.00)
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2010
Running Time 86:00
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Yann Samuell
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Sophie Marceau
Marton Csokas
Michel Duchaussoy
Jonathan Zaccaï
Emmanuelle Grönvold
Juliette Chappey
Thierry Hancisse
Déborah Marique
Roméo Lebeaut
Jarod Legrand
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Cyrille Aufort


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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 No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     Apparently, according to the French, 7 is the "Age of Reason" - the age at which the mind and soul collide with great clarity. It is at 7 that Marguerite puts together a series of letters and mementos for herself, a present to be opened when she turns 40 and perhaps a road map for her future soul.

     When a provincial solicitor (Michel Duchaussoy) turns up in glass and steel Paris to deliver the first of these packages to Marguerite (Sophie Marceau) she is initially beyond disinterested. After all, Marguerite is unknown to her. She is now Margaret, a high powered and highly successful Parisian business woman. Margaret has the best existence she can think of - a high paying and high profile job, a lovely apartment in Paris and an equally successful and ambitious boyfriend, Englishman Thomas (Kiwi actor Marton Csokas doing his best en François). Once she starts to really look at the collages and letters assembled by her younger self Margaret starts the slow process of realisation that her successful life may not be in accord with her early dreams and aspirations. She has changed a lot since that little provincial girl, however, and The Age of Reason is about the struggle between the life we wanted and the life we have.

     The film is variously described on the DVD case as a "smash French film festival hit" and "the next Amelie". The Amelie reference probably relates to the flights of fancy the film veers off into when the younger Marguerite is giving her directions over the ages. However, whilst the flights of fancy seemed to grow organically in Amelie in this film they have more of a jarring effect. Sophie Marceau plays Margaret as a confident career woman with a draw full of photographs of female role models that she can pull out when seeking inspiration. Hers is a quest of rediscovery to find the spirit of her youth.

     This film is best described as a light comedy as the drama never sinks too deep. Her journey is not just to find herself but also the playmates of her youth, her long estranged brother and her first love Philibert. The dramatic question it poses is a simple one - will the provincial girl fully return to her roots or is the lure of power and success too strong? To fully enjoy The Age of Reason one has to unquestioningly accept the central conceit. For the film to have any sense of journey marked by the flow of letters being delivered by the aged solicitor, the viewer must simply accept that this intelligent woman has been so divorced from her past that she has simply forgotten the existence and the content of the letters sent to herself all those years ago.

    This is an interestingly scripted and directed film from Yann Samuell which is never boring but yet never fully engages the viewer.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The Age of Reason was shot on 35 mm film and shown at the cinema on a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. That ratio has been preserved for this DVD release. It is 16 x 9 enhanced.

     This modern French film gets a high quality DVD transfer. The colours are strong and accurate. The film has been lovingly shot. Scenes in the cave regions of France are a stand-out, particularly for those who have seen the recent Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Those in the fantasy sequences, particularly the bold reds, are vivid yet without any evidence of colour bleeding.

     The flesh tones are accurate. Apart from some brief moments of aliasing (on the hounds tooth jacket of one of the business people) there are no technical defects with the transfer. Although the film is put on a single layer DVD 5 the fact that it is under 90 minutes in length and there are no extras means that compression is not an issue.

     There are subtitles in English for the French language segments of the film.

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

Audio

     The Age of Reason carries two French soundtracks. Both are Dolby Digital. One is a 5.1 surround track running at 448 KB/S and the other a 2.0 track running at 224 KB/S.

     Both are perfectly acceptable for this dialogue driven film. There is not a great deal of surround activity by design and the subwoofer is rarely engaged. The benefit of the surround track is simply in the greatest sense of ambience.

     The dialogue is clear and easy to understand. The majority of the film is in French, however perhaps due to the presence of Marton Csokas there is a blend of French and English when the couple are having a dialogue. The English is clear and easy to understand in these segments however it is not subtitled for the hearing impaired.

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

Extras

    The only extra with this DVD is a theatrical trailer.

R4 vs R1

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

    The film has had a release on DVD and Blu-ray in Region 3 but I cannot find details about the content or quality of the title. Stick with Region 4.

Summary

     The Age of Reason is not without its charms. It is beautifully shot and the leads are engaging. It is also good to see actors of the vintage of Duchaussoy continuing to get decent film parts. Overall, however, the film never really soared in the imagination in a way that it was no doubt meant to do.

     The DVD quality is good both in sound and vision terms however it is bereft of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Friday, October 21, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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