Kino on Video presents
"Let's see what you can do. Don't fall in love with me."- Eve (Jeanne Moreau)
Stars: Jeanne Moreau, Stanley Baker
Other Stars: Virna Lisi, Giorgio Albertazzi
Director: Joseph Losey
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult themes, brief nudity)
Run Time: 01h:43m:22s
Release Date: 2000-09-26
DVD ReviewEva is Joseph Losey's 1963 feature about a fraudulent, philandering Welsh writer named Tyvian Jones (Stanley Baker), whose involvement with the mysterious Eve (Jeanne Moreau) becomes an all-consuming obsession. Even when he learns she is a prostitute motivated only by her own interests, he continues to seek her favor as his life collapses around him. The cold-hearted Eve toys with him at length, rewarding him with little and ultimately costing him his new wife Francesca (Virna Lisi), his friends and his career.
Losey's film was shot in Italy, primarily in English sprinkled with occasional subtitled Italian. His cinematographers pay loving attention to the famous architecture of Venice, with domes, columns and spacious paved squares providing the backdrop for this cautionary tale of human frailty and failure. The film has a beautifully composed yet de-glamorized look—the actors are often photographed under unflattering lighting, and some of the bit players recall Fellini's famous grotesques. Mirrors, staircases and glasses serve as frames and prisms for the action, and Losey's unusually mobile camera moves smoothly and precisely from one carefully chosen angle to another. Most importantly, the stylishness is not without purpose—it supports and complements the action, establishing the emotional tone of each scene without drawing undue attention to itself.
The lead performances are riveting and not at all what one might expect. Jeanne Moreau gives an unsettling, sexy, subtly tragic performance as Eve, who seems to carry an entire history of abuse and abandonment beneath her hardened, eye-shadowed exterior. Stanley Baker commits to his character's considerable moral weaknesses, endowing Tyvian with a belligerent, bullheaded, but somehow understandable determination to ruin his life. The supporting actors are competent, if a little stiff and stereotyped, supplying a credible context for the film's tragicomic, soap opera-ish story arc. Lip-synch is occasionally off a bit, probably due to post-production looping problems.
Kino Video's dual-layered DVD features two complete versions of Eva—the 103-minute (01:43:22) US release version, and Joseph Losey's original "Complete Director's Cut" that runs 119 minutes (01:59:11). The longer version is taken from the "only surviving print" (according to the keepcase copy) with Swedish/Finnish subtitles, and unfortunately is in poor condition compared to the US version; see the Image and Audio reviews for details. Both versions of the film feature the same general plot and ending, but Losey's version features a more stylish credits sequence, extended versions of a few scenes and several valuable character development scenes missing in the shorter version. There are a few minor editing differences, and at least one shot is seen in the shorter version but NOT in the extended cut. Losey reportedly disowned the producers' shorter cut, and it's a shame his original vision has been partially lost to the ages.
Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-
|Aspect Ratio||1.85:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Both versions of Eva are presented in the original 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio with non-anamorphic letterboxed transfers. The US version looks terrific, clean and sharp with solid detail (less so during the credits sequence) and few print defects. There are a few moire patterns, one scene with a wavering black level, and some pixelization, most noticeable in a scene near the end of the film. But the film's exquisite black-and-white photography is generally well-preserved, with good shadow detail and few distracting flaws.
Unfortunately, the "Complete Director's Cut" pales in comparison. The source print is in poor shape with abundant scratches, splices and dirt, and the image is generally soft and grainy. These defects, nasty as they are, are overshadowed by the print's poor contrast, which obscures detail in almost every scene and makes darker shots hard to make out at all. The digital transfer is competent, but the condition of the print makes the Director's Cut a less enjoyable viewing experience by a large margin.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: Both versions of Eva feature Dolby Digital 2.0 monophonic soundtracks, intended for ProLogic decoding to the center speaker. The US cut sounds fine aside from a few faint hisses and pops, with solid frequency range and well-engineered layering of dialogue, atmospheric sound effects and Michel LeGrand's evocative score. Unfortunately, the longer Director's Cut is noisier than the US version and also suffers an odd problem—it seems that the digital transfer was taken using a stereo pick-up head, and the print's condition causes the left/right signals to diverge sometimes. These occasional dropouts in one channel or the other confound the intended ProLogic decoding, causing a distracting shifting of sounds across the front soundstage.
Audio Transfer Grade: C+
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Swedish/Finnish
Extras Review: Aside from two complete cuts of the main attraction, the Eva DVD features no supplemental content whatsoever, just simple menus with 15 text-based chapter stops for each version of the film. Oddly, the chapter selection menus aren't accessible from the title screen—they can only be reached by starting either version of the film, then pressing the MENU button.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsEva is a moody, stylish black-and-white film about morality and the power of desire. Kino Video's DVD features the US theatrical cut as well as a significantly longer "Director's Cut," though it suffers from poor print quality. It's an unfortunate toss-up as to which version is preferable for initial viewing—the shorter, high-quality cut, or the complete, damaged version, but the film is worthwhile in either form. Recommended.
Dale Dobson 2000-08-31