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Seville Pictures presents
Love Street (2001)

"If every hooker played piano when she was down, the concert would never end."
- Narrator

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: July 31, 2003

Stars: Patrick Timsit, Laetitia Casta
Other Stars: Vincent Elbaz, Catherine Mouchet
Director: Patrice Leconte

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mature themes, sexuality)
Run Time: 01h:26m:27s
Release Date: October 08, 2002
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Set in a Paris brothel during World War II, Love Street is a dour romance about a group of fairly downbeat people. Little Louis (Patrick Timsit), the child of a prostitute and born in the whorehouse, sees it as his duty to care for the women, even as he searches for a woman that he can take care of for the rest of his life. He thinks that newcomer Marion (model turned actress Laetitia Casta) might be the one, but he knows he doesn't make her happy, so he goes about trying to find her the right guy. Her chosen beau, however, turns out to be not quite so perfect.

The story reminds me a little bit of Pretty Woman (both films romanticize prostitution somewhat, though Love Street is a bit bleaker), as both follow a call girl with aspirations for a love life that isn't based solely on sex, but the French film is realistic where the American comedy was fantastical, and Love Street's ending is downright depressing, much closer to the legendary original ending of the Julia Roberts smash.

There are a few nice scenes, like the montage of women working to make money to help Marion out of a life or death situation, and music is used quite well throughout (singing is Marion's refuge when she comes to the brothel, and she eventually makes her wistful big screen singing debut). The 1940s-era soundtrack is full of catchy French tunes that lend a surprising playfulness to the lighter half of the picture. It is in the latter half, however, when the film slips. The characters are never really developed or given room to breathe, so once bad things start happening, it is difficult to feel for them. The black-as-night ending also serves to erase any lingering good feelings.

Director Patrice Leconte (The Widow of St. Pierre) favors stylistic quirkiness over dramatic realism, and his gliding camera and occasional quick cutting give the film an unusual energy to contrast with the downbeat narrative. He even interjects the odd Monty Python-esque fantasy scene (as when Louis imagines the girls literally being "thrown out into the streets" once the brothels are closed), but these amusing touches are jarring and rather out of place.

There is much talk of love, and a few scenes of sexuality, but the emotions are never engaged and the story never truly comes to life. Marion's search for happiness may be ultimately futile, and Louis affection for her may be misguided, but we should be engaged by their struggles. We should feel how passionate they are about changing their lives. For a film entitled Love Street, the story of Louis and Marion is surprisingly passionless.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This transfer starts off problematically, with a tracking shot of a grassy field that is riddled with artifacts and digital aliasing, but quickly settles down. Colors are heightened and saturated (as is apparently the intent), with deep blacks and fair shadow detail. There is still a bit of digital artifacting at times, however, and the image overall has an unnatural, sort of digital look during quick camera movements. The source materials appear very clean, and the image plays fairly well on a small display, but blown up on a larger screen, I fear that the artifacting and shimmer would be difficult to ignore.

Image Transfer Grade: C+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Frenchyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Two French tracks are included, in both DD 2.0 and 5.1 surround. The 5.1 track is quite good for a drama, featuring lots of atmospheric surround use and good support for the score in the rears. Across the front soundstage, dialogue is clear and anchored in the center channel, and the front mains handle sound effects with several instances of stereo separation.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring In the Mood for Love, Pandemonium, Late Marriage
1 Documentaries
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extras Review: I am at a bit of a loss as to how to assign a grade to the extras for Love Street, since the major inclusion, a 45-minute making-of piece billed somewhat misleadingly on the back of the box as a mere "featurette," is useless to me. The documentary, which appears, from what I saw of it, to be a combination of on-set footage and interviews with the cast and crew, is entirely in French, and no English subtitles are included. I know this disc is a Canadian import, but it is frustrating that no subtitles are present, especially considering the lengths Seville had to go to create cover art and menus in both English and French to comply with Canadian laws governing bilingual presentations of films with a French audio track.

Other extras include the trailer and three spots for other Seville releases: In the Mood for Love, Pandemonium, and Late Marriage.

Sans the documentary, I'd score the extras with a D-. Judging by how I've graded in the past, a decent 45-minute documentary would probably warrant a C+. So I'll split the difference here, and go with a C-, and a "see me after class" to Seville pictures to discuss their attitude towards the English speaking population of Region 1.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

A stylishly directed downer of a romance, Love Street is a bleak take on Pretty Woman that might appeal to those who were seduced by the sexy spectacle and garish colors of the brothels in Moulin Rouge!.


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