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Image Entertainment presents
Gang of Four (La Bande des quatre) (1988)

Claude: Nothing is worse than lying.
Anna: And yu want to be an actress?
Claude: "Well, acting is not lying. It's searching for the truth.

- Laurence Côte, Fejria Deliba

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: January 16, 2002

Stars: Fejria Deliba, Laurence Côte, Inês d'Almeida, Bernadette Giraud
Other Stars: Nathalie Richard, Benoît Régent, Bulle Ogier
Director: Jacques Rivette

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (brief nudity and mature themes)
Run Time: 02h:35m:05s
Release Date: January 02, 2002
UPC: 014381071924
Genre: foreign


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B B-BB D-

DVD Review

La Bande des Quatre (domestically known as Gang Of Four) is Jacque Rivette's 1988 film that meanders through the close knit lives of a group of female acting school students in Paris. When I say meander, I REALLY mean meander, because Rivette chooses to let his film gradually unfurl at a hypnotically slow pace that at times borders on the voyeuristic, with it's long, static shots of breakfast and dinner conversations and the like. At first, this style of filmmaking straddles the line between dull and engaging, but Rivette's film is saved by a quartet of strong young actresses.

The plot is centered around the exclusive acting school run by Constance Dumas (Bulle Ogier), and the assorted group of students under her tutelage, especially Anna (Fejria Deliba), Claude (Laurence Cote), Joyce (Bernadette Giraud) and Lucia (Ines d'Almeida). The four girls share a house, with Anna being the most recent flat mate after Cecile (Nathalie Richard) moves out. The crux of the film focuses on a mysterious stranger (Benoit Regent) who is seeking information about Cecile, and begins a series of individual encounters with Anna, Claude, Joyce and Lucia in order to retrieve something left behind in the house. The trouble is, he gives each girl a different story, a different name, and a different item he is allegedly searching for, and that layers the film with a small level of mystery as Rivette simultaneously leads the viewer through the almost mundane aspects of the character's lives, even as he interjects a subplot regarding a mysterious ghost that is never fully developed.

One of the artsy narrative elements employed by Rivette are the sequences that feature the girls rehearsing a play under the strict scrutiny of Constance Dumas, and how these scenes parallel the developing story. At first I found these occasionally lengthy segments distracting, but as the film progressed and I became more immersed in the characters lives, the impact of the theatrical dialogue became more and more relevant despite the blatant triteness of this plot device.

La Bande des Quatre could have easily become mired in extreme dullness and pomposity were it not for the strength of the four leads, especially Laurence Cote as the sexually confused Claude. Cote delivers a heartfelt turn in a role that begins the film in a very minor way, and eventually becomes one of the more pivotal players in the story. Her character is the most complex of the bunch, and she has a very strong and natural screen presence that is hard to ignore.

Rivette allows La Bande des Quatre to wander, aimlessly at times. The story, and it's conflict resolution, are not nearly as satisfying as the performances here.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Image has issued La Bande des Quatre with a 1.85:1 widescreen transfer, and considering it's from 1988 it looks pretty good. Some nicks here and there, but negligible. Color palette is muted overall, and may be more a result of the film's age than anything else. Flesh tones remain consistent, though a little soft. The scenes that take place in the acting school appear the most lifelike, with a stronger color mix of deep red.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoFrenchno


Audio Transfer Review: Rivette's original French language mono track is free of any mono-typical distortion, and is relatively clean. As expected, there is no real depth to the sound field, but considering this film is a dialogue-driven piece, that is not a real issue.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: This disc is free of any extras, other than the optional English subtitles.

Extras Grade: D-

 

Final Comments

Rivette's slow and deliberately paced film, with an expansive 155 minute runtime, is a very well-acted story that suffers most glaringly from a slightly rushed conclusion. Enjoyable, but less than perfect.

 


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