French Kiss (1995)

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Released 13-Nov-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romantic Comedy Menu Animation & Audio
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1995
Running Time 106:15 (Case: 111)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Lawrence Kasdan
Studio
Distributor

Magna Home Entertainment
Starring Meg Ryan
Kevin Kline
Timothy Hutton
Jean Reno
Francois Cluzet
Susan Anbeh
Case Click
RPI $34.95 Music James Newton Howard


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Screen, not known whether Pan & Scan or Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, extensive
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, singing under credits

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

Plot Synopsis

    When I saw French Kiss in the cinema I was disappointed. I'd seen Meg Ryan in a couple of romantic comedies and I expected more. Oh, it wasn't dreadful, but it wasn't as good as I wanted it to be. A classic case of high expectations.

    Meg Ryan plays Kate. Kate is afraid of flying. She is also somewhat racist, small-minded, and a klutz. The racism may not be hers - there are several racial stereotypes in this movie, making me wonder if it is the director overplaying things to get a fish-out-of-water effect. Maybe the director felt a need to be heavy-handed because the racism is not as obvious as skin colour - it is directed towards the French. Perhaps the most evident is the presumption that French men have stubble on their faces at all times. Even the hotel concierge has beard shadow. I guess it's understandable, though; everyone knows all French people smoke too much, are very rude, and continually test nuclear weapons in the South Pacific (in case you're wondering, that was sarcasm).

    Kate is a teacher. She is in Canada, and in the process of getting her Canadian citizenship (she is from the USA) because she is engaged to a Canadian. He is Charlie (Timothy Hutton), a doctor. They have everything organised for their life together - they are even considering purchasing a house before the marriage. He tries to persuade her to come to a medical conference in Paris with him. She doesn't want to leave Canada because it is a condition of her citizenship application that she stay while it is being processed. She's also terrified of the flight. In the end, he goes without her.

    Then she gets a phone call. He tells her he's met a wonderful girl (a "goddess") called Juliette (Susan Anbeh), and they are in love - obviously he's a jerk, but she doesn't see it that way. She wants him back. Next thing you know she's on a flight to Paris, with an obnoxious Frenchman (Kevin Kline) sitting beside her. He tries to engage her in conversation, and rapidly discovers her prejudices. He does manage to distract her from her fear of flying by accusing her of having sexual hang-ups (a novel approach, certainly).  

    Luc Teyssier (Kevin Kline - he is very comfortable with French, and his accent is convincing) is smuggling, and he is concerned about being searched on arrival in Paris. He conceals his package in her bag without her knowledge. He intends to collect it from her the moment they clear Customs, but he bumps into a police inspector, Jean-Paul (Jean Reno), with whom he has a long history, and sees Kate head off in a taxi.

    Around now we can guess roughly where things are going, and it becomes clearer as the film progresses. But hey, it is a romantic comedy - you expect some predictability. I must say, though, that I liked the ending, because it does not rely on an unbelievable coincidence, for once.

    There's lots of glorious scenery. They have emphasised their location shooting with lots of French icons - we see the Eiffel Tower repeatedly, the Arc De Triomphe, and so forth. Shame we can't appreciate the scenery in full widescreen glory.

    I'm glad I gave this one a second chance - it is better than I thought. It's not a piece of film art, but it is pleasant.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    There are a lot of films I've been waiting to see arrive on DVD, and some of them have just been released. To my horror, they have been released as pan-and-scan monstrosities; I suspect that they've been made from VHS masters. What upsets me most is that their release in this butchered form means that they are unlikely to be released properly. This was not one of those films, but it well could have been - it has received the same treatment. 

    This movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced; it looks like a VHS master was used as the source. At the end, we get a zoom out to what looks like a 2.35:1 non-16x9 enhanced picture so we can see all of the credits - the only moment when we can appreciate the scenery properly is with the credits scrolling over it.

    The image is soft, but reasonably clear. Shadow detail is fairly good. There's no significant low level noise.

    Colour is fairly well-saturated, but never reaches the intensity we deserve.

    There is plenty of aliasing, and quite a bit of background shimmer - there's a huge example of shimmer at 62:24 on a splash of flowers. There aren't a lot of visible film artefacts, and they are generally small - see 16:17 for an example.

    There are no subtitles.

    The disc is single-sided and single-layered, which means there is no layer change.

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

Audio

    There is a single soundtrack - English Dolby Digital 2.0, not surround encoded. There's nothing much in the way of a stereo spread - the soundtrack could easily be mono.

    Dialogue is easy to understand, even with the accents. Audio sync is fine.

    The score is credited to James Newton Howard; it's nothing special, but it does the job. There are some French songs to add atmosphere, but the one that strikes home is La Vie en Rose, sung by Louis Armstrong, rather than Piaf - good listening. Later in the credits we get to hear Kevin Kline singing in a French accent - he is surprisingly decent.

    There's nothing for the surrounds, nor the subwoofer, but they're not missed - this film is very much dialogue-driven.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu is static, but has songs playing under it. The only entries on the menu are Play Movie and Scene Selections.

R4 vs R1

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

    This movie is about to be released in Region 1 as a widescreen transfer, unfortunately not 16x9 enhanced. Even without 16x9 enhancement, the proper aspect ratio is preferable to a pan-and-scan effort.

Summary

    French Kiss is a decent movie, treated shoddily for its transfer to DVD.

    The video quality is acceptable, for a pan-and-scan hack.

    The audio quality is fine.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Saturday, December 29, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDArcam DV88, 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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