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Home Vision Entertainment presents
"I have no sense of sin."
DVD ReviewAfter viewing Time Without Pity, I was confident in the skills of former blacklisted director Joseph Losey. His well-constructed noir was an effective thriller that had a clear political message. As I turned to La Truite, a French "sex comedy" made in the early eighties, I was ready to see a different side of Losey—one that takes his spirited sense of tension to a new genre. Well, as you can probably tell, the experience was underwhelming. Prepare for the downfall of Joseph Losey.
Frederique (Isabelle Huppert) is a spritely nymphet who grew up on her parent's trout farm. All her life, men have lusted after her, and she discovered early how to exploit their desires. As a child, she formed a club, the philosophy of which was to get everything possible out of men without giving them anything in return, i.e. sex. Well, she has taken this philosophy to the extreme, with little to no consideration of the consequences. As a result, she is unconfident whether she is able to love. Men have become simply a source of material goods, nothing more.
Three men become pivotal in her journey. First, her closeted homosexual, alcoholic husband Glauchot (Jacques Spiesser) does not know how, nor has the desire to consummate their marriage. In a bowling alley (evidently where all things hip and business-like happen in France, circa 1982), the couple meets Rambert (Jean-Pierre Cassel) and his wife Lou (Jeanne Moreau). Rambert is a rich businessman who immediately forms a Lolita-like obsession with the young girl, and is not afraid to flaunt his flirtations in front of his wife. Likewise, Saint-Genis (Daniel Olbrychski), a partner of Rambert's, fancies Frederique, and openly entices her in front of Glauchot. Oddly enough, there seems to be little to no consequence to these sexual border crossings. The spouses seem to care little, boosting the myth that this is common France.
Before long, Frederique is off to Japan with Saint-Genis, and continues to live out her club's philosophy. She meets various people, dances, drinks, flirts, entices, commits to no one, and ultimately, causes heartache, pain, separation, and wounds far more fatal. This film is touted as a comedy. Problem number one: It's not funny in the least. The material is handled with a sense of careless wandering, preventing me from becoming emotionally invested in anything that was taking place.
Losey simply has no direction in this film. Like his camera and dull color palette, he distractingly zooms in and out, pans across, and aimlessly follows various bits of so-called "story," without accentuating certain moments, characters, or events. The film has no clear progression, minimal story arc and character development, and uses a bizarre non-linear style to provide backstory for Frederique at random moments. There are some moments of decent dialogue, but they are fleeting. Little to no thought was put into illustrating the ramifications of Frederique's annoying, immature behavior. She reeks havoc, men follow lustily, and the men's wives and/or girlfriends consider it to be old hat, while hiding an occasional tear. Like the story, which seems to advocate such carelessness, performances are shoddy and seemingly without effort. I did not care what happened to these characters. I had a hard time finding many redeeming qualities about this film, which like a trout left in the sun too long, well, you get the picture.
Rating for Style: D+
Rating for Substance: D+
Image Transfer Review: Home Vision has provided a fine anamorphic 1.66:1 image (MGM, take note) that exhibits good detail and minimal grain. As mentioned, Losey's color palette is subdued. However this lack of color does not take away from the beauty of some of the locations captured in France and Japan. The largest transfer flaw is some noticeable PAL to NTSC "jaggies" around moving objects.
Image Transfer Grade: B
Audio Transfer Review: The monaural audio track is in good shape, sounding clean. Dialogue is discernable and the minimal music score comes through nicely. Nothing to write home about, but adequate.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Extras Grade: D
Final CommentsI guess Brian DePalma is not alone. After an encouraging past, director Joseph Losey churns out a droll, wandering film about the exploitation of men on the part of Frederique, a young French peasant girl. Its aimless direction and message (if you can call it that) make it a painful curiosity at best. Cast your line elsewhere.
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