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Fox Lorber presents
Love, etc. (1996)

"This has to happen: Marie realizes she loves me. Benoit realizes she loves me. We live happily ever after. Benoit stays our best friend. No one gets hurt."
- Pierre (Charles Berling)

Review By: Robert Mandel   
Published: June 15, 2000

Stars: Charles Berling, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Yvan Attal
Director: Marion Vernoux

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (Female nudity, sexuality)
Run Time: 01h:44m:23s
Release Date: May 23, 2000
UPC: 720917520926
Genre: romantic comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ A-DC+ D

DVD Review

Love, etc is a contemporary French love story, set in Paris at the turn of our current century (Y2K). Marie (Charlotte Gainsbourg), is dissatisfied with her current state of affairs—literally—she's getting it on with her married downstairs neighbor. "I hang on too long. have a hard time letting go," Marie says. This time, instead of leaving her future in the hands of fate, she wrests control and submits a classified ad in the newspaper.

Benoit (Yvan Attal), a self-deprecating loser answers her lonely hearts ad, and immediately falls in love with Marie the first time they meet. Pierre, the happy-go-lucky, eternal bachelor, student-bedding professor and Benoit's best friend, Pierre, is amused. The three hang out over New Year's, and are the best of chums.

While taking wedding pictures, each of the three characters take a turn breaking the fourth wall by addressing the audience. Benoit is madly in love, while Marie can only speak stoically of Benoit's love for her and how well he treats her, "I am married now. I never thought this would happen to me." Profound joy, indeed! "Mare, mare, mare," says Pierre. Yes, it is at the wedding, where Pierre performs the role of Best Man, that he finally realizes what the audience knew from the moment his jaw dropped when he met Marie, that he has fallen in love with his best friend's wife.

I have watched two films this week about love, and what one man will do for it, or in spite of it—the first being Universal's Snow Falling on Cedars and the second, Love, etc. In the former, the hero (portrayed by Ethan Hawke) acts selflessly, a sacrifice made of love for the only woman he has ever loved. Here Pierre cannot do the same for his best friend. The very thought of Marie pounds in his heart, tears at his brain—he is consumed. This egotistical professor espousing near-misogynist ideologies has become the faithful, puppy dog Benoit has been—they have effectively switched places. Like the clock in the kitchen that has a farmer in a rainsuit if the weather is bad and smiling in overalls if good—never shall the two meet. Benoit says, "It is my turn for happiness now, but it's not my fault." He could not be more wrong.

This film's character study is complimented by the acting of its fine cast, which together bring the audience with it on a roller coaster ride from light and comical to the epic confrontation scene in which Benoit finally explodes ala Kevin Spacey in American Beauty (bear in mind this film proceeds AB by 3 years).

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: I did not have the opportunity to view this in the theater (I'll assume it played somewhere in the Chicago area, perhaps the Fine Arts or the Music Box theaters), so I can't speak to the image in terms of the original. Saying that, it would be foolish of me to berate Fox Lorber for not spending more on the video transfer of a foreign movie that probably won't move 20,000 pieces, but I have been known to make many a mistake before. This transfer is completely out of whack. From the completely distracting streaking white line (approximately 16m:17-40s), the abhorrent pluming (10m:50s, 17m:20s), the flopping overly-light, overly-dark contrast , the dot crawl (10m:35s, 18m:27s) and soft focus, to the often inability to read the intertitles—this appears to be a rather rank transfer. Maybe if I am able to arrange an interview we can speak with Fox Lorber about the monetary restraints of putting out anamorphic transfers, if not at least remastered transfers for DVD, not video. I'm sure the costs must be prohibitive, because I can't believe they'd treat their precious content this way if they could afford to do otherwise, or expect a return on their investment.

Image Transfer Grade: D


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: This is a layman DD2.0 French mono transfer, which is fair in measure. I suppose it would matter more to me if I spoke French, or at least understood it. The mono track is muddy and vacuous during certain interior shots. The PCM track is a slight improvement, the dialogue appears to be more distinct. Incidental music is occasional, but evocative. The audio presentation won't be winning any awards, but it is nowhere as bad as the image transfer.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+


Disc Extras

Animated menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Packaging: Alpha
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Production Credits
  2. DVD-ROM weblink to WinStar's Website
Extras Review: I won't bother chiding Fox Lorber for the lack of extras, the cost per disc would certainly be prohibitive, and the transfers are more important. I do join Mark Zimmer in wishing that they would at least add extra chapter stops; 12 for a movie of this length is ludicrous. Perhaps their authoring system only goes this high? You laugh, but I wouldn't be surprised. At least the scene access has full-motion video—it's a decisive step up from other releases. Four filmographies without bios are offered—the three stars and the director. Production Credits and a weblink to WinStar's website round the usual lack of extras.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

The one thing you have to love about French films (besides the requisite nudity) if nothing else, is represented here by Pierre, who can sound as lovely reading a car maintenance manual as he does reading Emile Zola. Despite being amusing, the ending is rather unlikely. I highly recommend this film for viewing, but warn against purchase based on the rather atrocious transfer, which is a shame because the film is worthy of more.


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