Vanguard Cinema presents
A Few Hours of Sunlight (Un peu de soleil dans l'eau froide) (1971)
Gilles Lantier: I should have known.
Nathalie Silvener: What?
Gilles: I'm not the only one.
Nathalie: What do you mean?
Gilles: That boy seems to adore you.
Nathalie: I should hope so, he's my brother.- Marc Porel, Claudine Auger
Stars: Claudine Auger, Marc Porel
Other Stars: Judith Magre, Barbara Bach, André Falcon, Jean-Claude Carrière, Nadine Alari, Gérard Depardieu, Marc Eyraud, Jacques Debary
Director: Jacques Deray
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (brief nudity)
Run Time: 01h:45m:07s
Release Date: 2002-12-24
DVD ReviewIt is uncanny how DVD is able to ferret from the woodwork long forgotten films in an effort to remarket them based on minor, early appearances by major stars. Headlined on the packaging by Gérard Depardieu (his second feature appearance), Barbara Bach, (her big screen debut) and Jean-Claude Carrière (known more for his many screenwriting collaborations with Luis Buñuel or The Return of Martin Guerre than his acting career), all three appear in but a handful of scenes each, serving only as ancillary characters.
Falling between his scripts for Belle de Jour and Le Charme discret de la bourgeoisie, Carrière adapted Un peu de soleil dans l'eau froide from the 1969 novel of the same name by French author Françoise Sagan, who became an instant celebrity at 19 with the publication of her scandalous 1954 debut Bonjour tristesse. Known for her indifferent depictions of the ennui of the bourgeoisie, A Few Hours of Sunlight (more accurately translated in its international title, A Little Sunlight in Cold Water), is one such tale, telling the story of a cynical and selfish young man, and his affair with a married woman. Sagan also contributed lyrics to the closing song of the film.
Parisien journalist, Gilles Lantier is in a state of melancholy, prone to violent mood swings, antisocial, and depressed. His relationship with his American girlfriend (Barbara Bach) is fading, and his emotional outlook is bleak. While away visiting his sister in a small rural town, he is introduced to Nathalie Silvener (Claudine Auger—Bond girl Domino from Thunderball), a striking young woman who becomes interested in him. She proves the cure to his lethargy, and they strike up an affair, but only then does he discover that she is married to a wealthy older man (Jean-Claude Carrière). Nathalie insists she is in love with Gilles, and at the urging of her brother Pierre (Gérard Depardieu), leaves her husband and moves to Gilles' flat in Paris. Life is blissful for a time, but their work schedules and proximity return Gilles to a state of disinterest, shattering Nathalie's dreams, and serving to teach Gilles a lesson in life and love with the eventualities he has caused.
Despite its misleading billing, the film does provide a moderate degree of entertainment value, with its real stars doing an adequate job in their roles. Marc Porel fills the unlikable and selfish Gilles with a shallowness befitting his character, while Claudine Auger plays Nathalie with a naïve vibrance that also suits her part. The story isn't exactly captivating, but unfolds in a fairly predictable manner save for the ending, which provides a sobering coda, foreshadowed by the start of the film. Emotional intensity is reserved throughout, everyone is quite dispassionate, even when presented with a partner's infidelity or other catastrophes, which translate to the viewing experience as one of subdued involvement. As a curio for fans of the credited stars, it is interesting, but its relegation to obscure status is not without merit, as it is ultimately forgettable.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-
|Aspect Ratio||1.5:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||no|
Image Transfer Review: The transfer here appears to be sourced from an older video master. Ever so slightly letterboxed, the framing still seems tight on the sides, evidenced by the opening credits which are positioned at the extreme edge of the frame, and will most likely be cut off by overscan on typical 4:3 televisions.
The image gets mixed reviews. On the positive side, there appear to be no compression issues to speak of, fine grain looks natural, colors are fairly well saturated, but definitely have that slightly faded 1970s look to them. There is little in the way of aliasing or moire in tights patterns. However, the print used for this release is in moderately rough shape, particularly around reel changes. There are plenty of scratches, lots of dust and debris, and major flaws such as rips or blotches throughout.
The video source induces a typical amount of color noise, faint rolling horizontal bars, and also blurs the image, making detail indistinct. The source also has a problem with deep blacks, which come across as green, particularly on face shadows, and the greenish tint also polutes fleshtones in much of the film. There are a couple of corrupted frames in the video source at the 01:24m:30s mark, where there is just blue video noise. The movie is still quite watchable, but leaves a fair amount of room for improvement.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: The two-channel French mono is in similar condition to the image. Reel changes mark an increase in static and popping. There is some distortion, and audible, but not overbearing hiss. There are a couple of intrusive anomalies during one panning shot, but aside from source problems, the track doesn't appear to have any other major issues.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Extras Review: Aside from the 12 chapter stops, there are no extras to speak of.
English subtitles are hard coded, contain no apostrophes, include several spelling errors, and fail to translate a few key lines.
Extras Grade: D
Final CommentsFor the curious or completists, A Few Hours of Sunlight provides a look at some early work by Depardieu and Bach, proving more of a stepping stone, in what amount to cameos, than defining moments. The actual lead actors do a good job with their parts, however the film is a fairly flat production in character and story, with little emotional depth.
From a presentation perspective, the source quality is not up to expected standards, but given that this film would likely have been lost forever without the bit parts of the packaged headliners, I wouldn't expect there to be much call for a proper restoration of this work any time soon. Interesting from a historical perspective, most won't be lost without it.
Jeff Ulmer 2003-04-03