The Game is Over (La Curée) (1967)
"You're on your own, kids."- Alexandre Saccard (Michel Piccoli)
Stars: Jane Fonda, Michel Piccoli, Peter McEnery
Other Stars: Howard Vernon, Tina Aumont, Jacques Monod
Director: Roger Vadim
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity, sexuality)
Run Time: 01h:34m:31s
Release Date: 2003-09-23
DVD ReviewRegardless of what one might think of Roger Vadim, one cannot deny his eye for women. After spending several years with Brigitte Bardot, Vadim moved on to the young Jane Fonda, who was something of a stunner in her day. Vadim collaborated with Fonda in a series of French films, including Spirits of the Dead and this tale of forbidden romance.
Industrialist Alexandre Saccard (Michel Piccoli) has a son, Maxime (Peter McEnery), in college and a much younger second wife, Renee (Fonda). Neither of them feels as if they get much attention from Saccard, and they engage in a variety of forms of sadistic teasing. Before long, however, the teasing blossoms into full-blown romance, and the two illicit lovers must keep their relationship secret from their husband and father. When he inevitably finds out, Saccard, true to his nature, plans a cold and calculated revenge.
Allegedly based on a novel by Emile Zola, the quasi-incestuous nature of the relationship still has the capability to shock the audience, especially in the copious nude and sex scenes. Although these on occasion feel as if they go on too long, they are undeniably passionate and form a sensuous counterweight to the cold and sterile existence of the Saccard family otherwise. The result of the relationship is an explosion of green, which forms the thematic center of the film, from the opening titles to the green scummy water into which Fonda plunges in the finale, accented by Maxime's garish green costume as Genghis Khan in which he first seduces (or is seduced by) Renee.
Fonda carries the central role well, credibly falling for the young man while expressing affectionate resentment towards the father. The later segments of the film, as matters begin to unravel, allows Fonda to show some of the talent she would go on to demonstrate a few years later in They Shoot Horses, Don't They? and Klute. Piccoli is suitably cold as the industrialist, and McEnery does a fine job as the callow youth unsure of what he wants exactly, but willing to go with the flow despite potentially disastrous consequences. The only place where he doesn't seem to quite hit the mark are in the last sequences, where he appears to be inappropriately confident about his course of action. Also in the cast are Tina Aumont as Maxime's sometimes girlfriend, not to mention cult favorite Howard Vernon.
Vadim uses a straightforward style for much of the running time, dabbling in distortion in the last reel as he uses funhouse lenses for effect in some POV shots. The use of some oddball touches, such as Maxime's fondness for Chinese culture, provide visual and musical interest to counterpoint the main romantic story in an effective manner. Despite its somewhat arty pretensions, this is a picture that holds the interest, especially once the opportunity for revenge makes itself known.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B
|Aspect Ratio||2.35:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: The 'scope frame is presented in standard nonanamorphic letterbox. That's too bad, because the film generally has good color and deep blacks. The source print is more or less clean, although some damage crops up right at the end of the last reel. Had an anamorphic transfer been used, this could have been beautiful, but as it is it loses a bit too much fine detail and there is some moderate video noise. Some minor ghosting is apparent, which causes one to suspect a not-entirely-successful PAL-NTSC transfer was used. But for the most part it's acceptable, if not outstanding.
Image Transfer Grade: C
Audio Transfer Review: The French 2.0 mono audio track suffers most from a mild electronic hum running throughout much of the picture. There's decent detail and presence to the music, and dialogue is crisp throughout. One segment where Maxime cranks his LP of pipe organ music is surprisingly effective and comes across very well indeed. At times dialogue sounds rather ADR-produced but on the whole it's passable other than the hum.
Audio Transfer Grade: C-
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Jules et Jim, Les Destinées, Place Vendome, Under the Sand, Z, The Return of Martin Guerre
Extras Review: Other than a few weblinks (to Wellspring, the Biography page for Vadim and a Fonda fansite) and abbreviated filmographies for Piccoli, Fonda and Vadim, the sole extras are a set of six trailers of other French films (not including the feature). These are all nonanamorphic widescreen, with the exception of The Return of Martin Guerre, which is full frame. Not much, in other words.
Extras Grade: D+
Final CommentsRomance and revenge in equal parts, with Jane Fonda turning in a fine early performance. Not much for extras, and an iffy transfer, however.
Mark Zimmer 2003-11-19