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Koch Lorber presents
A Heart in Winter (Un coeur en hiver) (1992)

"Maxime and I had known each other so long, we didn't need words."
- Stephane (Daniel Auteuil)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: November 07, 2006

Stars: Daniel Auteuil, Emmanuelle Béart
Other Stars: André Dussollier
Director: Claude Sautet

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult themes)
Run Time: 01h:44m:19s
Release Date: November 07, 2006
UPC: 741952308690
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

French cinema has always been near the top in terms of delivering affecting dramas on a regular basis. 1992's A Heart in Winter (Un coeur en hiver) is a prime exampleby the late writer/director Claude Sautet (Mado). Winner of the César Award for Best Director and the Venice Film Festival's Silver Lion, this film has stood the test time among international film enthusiasts. Koch Lorber gives fans an excuse to revisit this classic, thanks to their new DVD as part of their Gold Series, featuring a new HD transfer supervised by the director of photography, Yves Angelo.

Stephane (Daniel Auteuil) is a violin-maker who has worked with Maxime (André Dussollier) for many years. They have always complemented each other perfectly—Stephane has difficulty dealing with the public, his customers, so Maxime does the PR. When Camille (Emmanuelle Béart), Maxime's girlfriend, comes into the shop, she locks eyes with Stephane. Camille and Stephane have a chance to get to know each other better as he advises on her violin playing. This leads to a mistaken attraction, one that threatens Stephane and Maxime's relationship, both business and personal.

Sautet takes his time letting the complexities of his love story unravel until a pivotal discussion between Camille and Stephane, when the direction of things changes drastically. It's at this point that A Heart in Winter completely grabs us, and is what has kept it relevant and entertaining over the years. When we eventually learn the true nature of Stephane's personality, and how he can simply never change, we realize why he has no choice but to do what he does to Camille. An odd final reel has everything come full circle, giving us hope that everyone involved in this emotional ménage-à-trois can continue to exist with at least some semblance of happiness. Of course, even after the end credits have rolled, we're still not sure if Stephane has any idea what it's like to be happy.

The great Auteuil, one of France's legendary movie stars, gives one of his most complete performances here. Similar to his work in the recent Caché, Auteuil takes us on an emotional roller coaster ride with Stephane. At first, he seems likeable enough, despite his reserved nature, but eventually, we come to realize that he might not be as he seems. Emmanuelle Béart is equally compelling, embodying a character that also changes a few times. Her performance after a key scene where Camille is humiliated takes on a new life, resulting in one of the most heart-wrenching depictions of an emotionally wrecked woman that you'll ever witness.

The most intriguing relationship is between Stephane and Maxime. These longtime partners don't seem like rivals on the surface, but the film theorizes that all human relationships have at least some layer of competitiveness that often leads to jealousy and emotional pain. Stephane is a man who refuses to love anyone, spreading his sorrow to everyone he meets. Whether he thrives on sorrow is debatable, but there are few other explanations for his actions. This is truly one of the most difficult characters you'll ever feel compelled to empathize with on film, and no matter how many times one revisits A Heart in Winter, the opaque Stephane remains just beyond reach.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is the byproduct of a newly restored HD transfer that is easily the best this film has ever looked. The images are pristine, with sharp images throughout and crisp, bright colors. There's no color bleeding and dirt and grain are virtually nonexistent, while the blacks and contrast are at optimal levels.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Both the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix and the original mono soundtrack sound very nice. Purists will enjoy the mono track, but the 5.1 is especially impressive when adding depth to the film's score. This is a very talky film, and it's nice to hear crystal clear dialogue on both of the audio options.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Gilles' Wife, Tous les Matins du Monde, Changing Times, Nathalie..., The Story of Marie and Julien, La Moustache
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. "André Dussollier TV Appearance"
  2. "Claude Sautet TV Appearance"
  3. "A Rare Interview with Claude Sautet"
Extras Review: There are a handful of extra features including a five-minute excerpt from a Claude Sautet documentary. This segment finds Sautet discussing A Heart in Winter in great detail, focusing quite a bit on the nature of his characters.

There's also a rare interview with Sautet that lasts just under 25 minutes, and a pair of French TV appearances—one by Sautet, and one by André Dussollier. Finishing up is a collection of Koch Lorber trailers including one for the featured film.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

A Heart in Winter is a sad, enthralling story of impossible love. Koch Lorber's new disc is well worth seeking out, thanks to a wonderful new transfer, a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, and a handful of extras, including a talk with the late writer/director Claude Sautet.


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