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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
"She smelled of soap and sleep."
DVD ReviewI would like to tell you about a friend of mine, The Man Who Loved Movies. This man was not like ordinary men. Indeed, he loved movies with a passion unmatched since the days of the French New Wave. Every day he would wake up, and put on his silk robe, and his turtle gripper slippers, and he would waltz into his entertainment room. There he would nonchalantly flip on his state of the art receiver, connected to the most expensive and dynamic speakers currently in existence. He would then flip on his HDTV and put on his favorite, most wonderful films. And how he loved those movies. He would rewatch his old favorites, as well as hungrily salivating after the newest DVD releases. Looking back on it now, I can't say where the trouble started. Perhaps he got mixed up with the wrong crowd. Perhaps he was too fond of taking risks. Regardless of how it happened, the sad truth is that one morning he woke up to find a copy of The Man Who Loved Women (a remake of Truffaut's L'Homme qui aimait les femmes) in his DVD player. It was the last movie he would ever see. I remembered sitting in the coroner's office as he filled in The Man Who Loved Women under "cause of death." I had never cried up until that moment, and I doubt I will ever let loose my grief so fully ever again.While I knew the risks I was taking, I just had to watch The Man Who Loved Women. I had to do it to understand how The Man Who Loved Movies died and why. I knew I would always go through my life questioning everything unless I satisfied this morbid curiosity while it was still fresh. What I saw was a story of a man, Robert Fowler (Burt Reynolds). True to form, he loves women. A lot of women. In fact, the movie opens at his funeral, where scores of women are lined up to pay tribute to this man…who loved women. In this crowd of women stands Marianna (Julie Andrews), Fowler's ex-lover/wife/analyst. She narrates the film, which is a flashback of Fowler's life, told, strangely, through flashbacks while Fowler is in sessions with Marianna. In these, he details his childhood life, his flings with various women (like Marilu Henner and Kim Basinger), and his general love for all human things of the female persuasion.Having a flashback within a flashback format is odd to begin with, but I'd expect nothing less from a French New Wave master like Truffaut. Unfortunately, it appears as if all the good qualities that Truffaut and his actors brought to the original didn't carry over to the remake. While director Blake Edwards has been responsible for some undisputed classics (Breakfast at Tiffany's comes most immediately to mind), he's up a creek without a paddle here. The constant voiceovers that litter the film have the audience screaming "Show me, don't tell me!" Not only that, the content of the voiceovers and most of the dialogue in general is trite and sometimes jaw-droppingly bad. Just as bad are the attempts at physical comedy, an area in which Burt Reynolds has no aptitude, and also proves that in this day and age it's hard to make such comedy funny by adding really absurd sound effects (like a car slowly driving into a tree and you hear a crash that would be more fitting in some high-speed chase).In fact, Burt Reynolds' entire performance is bad. Well, it's not terrible, but it's entirely wrong for the part. He's such an immediate sex symbol (or was, anyway, he's starting to look a little grisly here) that he has to work three times as hard to make the audience believe he actually cares about women, and he's not up to the task. Not making it any easier is Julie Andrews as Marianna, who, aside from delivering the most absurd lines of this picture, or maybe any other picture, does nothing through three-fourths of the picture, and suddenly declares she is in love with Fowler, despite his detailing to her in graphic detail many of his sexual exploits and his insatiable appetite. Andrews is also miscast; she just doesn't seem to work with the overall tone. When you see a tableau of all the women Fowler loves, Andrews looks completely out of place standing next to Kim Basinger and Marilu Henner. Also, Andrews is involved in a ridiculous scene where psychobabble replaces actual psychological discussion in regards to Fowler's case.To be fair, I'll say that a story such as The Man Who Loved Women needs delicate handling, with subtle performances and spot-on directing to succeed. So, I have to ask, since Truffaut provided all that with his original film, why was it remade? What is it about the American public that they can't stand to see a subtitled film? Remakes only encourage American stubbornness and ignorance, and keeps those people in the dark about the riches of world film. And, as you now know, remakes, especially remakes of French films, can actually kill. Learn from the tale of The Man Who Loved Movies, and stay away from The Man Who Loved Women.
Rating for Style: F
Rating for Substance: F
Image Transfer Review: The video transfer doesn't make watching The Man Who Loved Women any easier. The transfer is grainy and murky, with a lot of faded colors (which might not be such a bad thing, considering the garish 1980s' art design). In one scene, Burt Reynolds is in the light, and then he walks through a shadow, and the detail on his face is all but obliterated. In fact, I'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between Reynolds in that lighting and a dummy with a beard in the same lighting. Although there is one scene where the transfer unintentionally adds to the atmosphere. Reynolds is standing over a hooker sleeping in his bed (he didn't sleep with her, and later she becomes his personal secretary), and the camera pans up to him standing mostly in the dark, while the light from outside reflects the rain onto his face. The muddiness of the transfer adds to the aura of mystery in the scene.
Image Transfer Grade: C
Audio Transfer Review: The Man Who Loved Women is presented in an English mono mix, and, appropriately, a French mono mix. Neither track is great, but they both do their job. Since the movie is dialogue driven, an incredible sound mix isn't all that important. The film is a lot funnier in French, by the way, if watched without subtitles. It's kind of like watching a strange amalgam of the original and the remake. It is also further proof that any non-French film dubbed into French can grasp at greatness.
Audio Transfer Grade: C
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
Extras Review: Apparently whoever put this disc together didn't love extras! Ha, ha…eh.
Extras Grade: F
Final CommentsThe Man Who Loved Women is a desperately unfunny remake of a very good French film. Burt Reynolds comes across as a misogynist skirt-chaser, and the women who love him are nothing but blow-up dolls for him to play with. The subtleties of the original French version are gone in favor of low-brow physical comedy that never works, along with plenty of scenes of Reynolds' just blowing girls' socks off. The only thing The Man Who Loved Women is good for is to serve as a manual on how to not make films.
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