Romance (1999)

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Released 19-Jun-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Notes-Australian Censorship Controversy
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Fat Girl, Betty Blue, Paris Texas, Show Me Love
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 94:32 (Case: 98)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Catherine Breillat
Studio
Distributor
Jean-Francois Lepeti
Madman Entertainment
Starring Caroline Ducey
Sagamore Stevenin
Case DV-4
RPI $34.95 Music D. J. Valentin
Raphael Tidas


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 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

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

Plot Synopsis

    Romance is not the exact title of this movie. The title is "Romance" with a large red cross over the "m". I'm not quite sure what to make of that. After watching the movie twice, I wonder if it is meant to be crossing out "man". I could sympathise with that.

    This film caused some fuss before it was released theatrically here in Australia. In fact, the largest extra on this disc is 27 pages of text describing why the Australian censors refused to give it a classification (a film which is Refused Classification cannot be screened in Australia), and why they finally relented, and allowed it an R rating. They point out that its graphic sexual content would normally force it from an R to an X classification, but its depiction of bondage and sexual violence disqualified it from the X rating. Interestingly, they had the latitude to decide that it could be given an R rating, because the wording relating to sexual content is flexible; they could not give it an X rating because the wording regarding violence in a sexual context is quite clear, and legislated. (The history of the Australian classification system is complicated.)

    This film contains graphic sexual content, and not all of it is simple sex. It is not pornography, because the purpose of the content is not to titillate, or arouse. In fact, most of it is far from arousing. If you were considering purchasing this disc as pornography I suggest that you look elsewhere.

    The front cover of this disc (the R4 version) has, as headlines, "Ground Breaking", "Brilliant", "Seductive", and "Sizzling". The quote below "Seductive" reads "The most sexually explicit mainstream movie ever made". That is quite likely, but I would definitely not describe the film as seductive, except in the way that the viewer is dragged into the pain suffered by the central character, Marie (played very well by Caroline Ducey).

    Marie is living with Paul, who no longer wants to have anything to do with her sexually. She finds this difficult to understand (so do I - she is quite attractive). Why he behaves like this is not really explored, but I find it strange, perhaps suggestive, that almost everything in his apartment is white, including all the bed linen. It is not overly clear why she remains with him, either. Anyway, she seeks other ways to fulfil her physical desires. She starts by picking up a man in a bar, but as her self-image degrades she gets involved in more humiliating things.

    This movie is heavy going. It is most definitely shocking, and I don't mean puritanically so, either. If you are open-minded enough to watch it all the way through, then you will probably be shocked by the sequence of events. However, I think that it is probably worthwhile - it certainly gave me something to think about.

    Don't say you weren't warned! 

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Transfer Quality

Video

    There is good and bad in this video transfer. The good lies in the quality of the transfer itself. The bad lies in a decision that I disagree with.

    This movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced. The 1.66:1 aspect ratio seems to be rather popular in Europe. It is a touch annoying, because it is too wide to fit on a 1.33:1 screen, and too narrow to fit on a 1.78:1 screen. You can present it on a 1.33:1 screen with black bars above and below (letterboxed), or on a 1.78:1 screen with black bars to the left and right (sometimes called mail-slotted). The choice here is to present it letterboxed - this is not an uncommon choice.

    The image is beautifully sharp and clear. There is excellent shadow detail, and no low-level noise. There's no edge-enhancement, either.

    Colour is mostly quite dull, but I am convinced that this is intended. Most of the colours chosen for costumes and sets are dull or washed out. As mentioned above, Paul's apartment is almost completely white, with skin tones pretty much the only relief. The red dress shows up quite strongly in this environment - I think this is deliberate.

    I think I saw (or imagined) one or two tiny film artefacts, but I could not locate them on re-viewing. This is an excellent transfer, with minimal (if any) film artefacts, no aliasing, no MPEG artefacts, ...

    So what's wrong? Simple: they have chosen to transfer a print with subtitles burned in. The subtitles are not optional - they are part of the video signal. This is vandalism. If you understand French, and would prefer to view the movie without subtitles, well, that's just tough - you can't. That's the wrong decision to make.

    The subtitles are in a pleasant, easy-to-read font, and were easy to follow - there were no blatant spelling errors, or failures in continuity.

    There are very few chapter stops (6 for the whole movie). The reason for this seemed to be so that the menu could display all of them on the main menu - not a very good reason, in my opinion. I much prefer the R1 disc's chaptering, which breaks the movie into 24 pieces.

    The disc is single sided single layer. No layer change.



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

Audio

    This disc offers a single soundtrack. The soundtrack is Dolby Digital 2.0, not surround encoded.

    Dialogue seems fairly clear, but I did not find it easy to understand. I could pick up a phrase or two here and there, but most of it was not comprehensible. I don't think we can blame the transfer for that - it is probably because I last studied French in 1975... 

    The score is credited to D J Valentin and Raphael Tidas. It does the job without drawing attention to itself.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer are not called for on a straight 2.0 soundtrack. 



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

Extras

    The extras are fairly minimal.

Menu

    The menu is animated, with music.

The Australian Censorship Controversy

    27 pages describing the original decision of the censors, and giving their report verbatim. Interesting reading, if you wanted to understand how they think.

Trailer

    The trailer for the movie is presented in 1.66:1, not 16x9 enhanced.

Madman Cinema

    A list of four films that will be available from Madman. The trailer for each film is presented in 1.66:1, not 16x9 enhanced. The movies are:

    These trailers are not in perfect condition - there are plenty of film artefacts to be seen. 

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 disc misses out on:

    I have compared these two directly, and it is quite annoying. I want to choose the R1, because it has the ability to switch off the subtitles. But the R1 video transfer is  harsher than ours - it has far too much contrast in the night scenes, and quite poor shadow detail. I must, reluctantly, recommend the R4 disc - it is an excellent transfer, spoiled by the subtitles being burned in.

    The English dub on the R1 disc is dreadful - spaghetti-Western quality - it is no loss, except to the illiterate. 

Summary

    This DVD is an excellent transfer of a "challenging" film. Be warned that it is definitely not for everyone.

    The video quality is excellent, except for the burned-in subtitles.

    The audio quality is fine.

    The extras are limited.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Monday, July 09, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-737, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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