Arrow Academy has once again made me enjoy a film I would have otherwise passed over. I’m not generally one to watch or seek out romance films, let alone black & white French ones. However, The Love of a Woman added to my ever growing taste. Unfortunately, it is also a deeply flawed film with lack of character depth, plot-lines started and forgotten, among other issues. Even so, if you like French drama in any way, then there is some enjoyment to be had here.
The Movie Itself (3.5/5)
On the remote island of Ushant we meet Madame Leblanc, a schoolteacher set to retire soon. While she is not the main protagonist, she does provide us with the calm motherly figure to our young Doctor Marie Prieur. Marie arrives at the island and is at first avoided like the plague by the townsfolk. Marie has to earn their trust and along with Madame Leblanc’s help, she just may do so.
The Love of a Woman does a fine job developing Marie’s growth and acceptance as the island physician. She even lugs her weight around when it comes to little Aline and her illness by confronting her mother. Once the islanders know she is competent, they embrace her wholeheartedly. Where I feel it lacks is with love interest Andre. Andre is an engineer on the island working in a temporary capacity. He steps up and gets in a fight when two locals decide to prank Marie.
Andre falls head over heels for Marie and in true romance movie form, asks her out constantly and stalks her wherever she goes. Now this is not where I am knocking the film, as this kind of trope is used all the time even if it would fail disastrously in a real world application. What I didn’t like is all of a sudden it is weeks later and they are apparently both in love. This seems to come out of nowhere as Marie was telling madame Leblanc she was not interested.
After they get together the film really shines. Not because everything is wonderful and happily ever after, but for the fact it shows true conflict between two people who love each other. Whenever watching a film that takes place many years before I was born, I try to imagine as most would, what kind of different social contexts there would be. So when Marie and Andre fight over her moving away and whether or not she can still have her job, is fantastic. I would like to think that in the 1950’s this conversation happened often with women who wanted to work. I think the film portrays it in a smart and realistic way, even though a few parts seem over the top.
Visuals/Picture Quality (3/5)
Generally I am not one to mind excessive film grain as it provides some nice detail throughout the picture. This might be the first time I wish some of it actually got rendered out. Though the issues seemed more problematic towards the beginning of the film. At times, faces from a distance were almost all full of grain to where they looked like monsters. You can notice when young Aline and her friend are out on the country side the grain seems to envelope their whole outline and actually moves along with them, like some sort of comic book character. Thankfully it got better as the film went on, or I was just more engrossed with the story and didn’t mind it.
Arrow doesn’t provide much info in the booklet on the transfer (see picture in packaging section) so I wonder how bad the elements were that they worked with. I also can’t imagine this being a huge seller for them, so I am sure time and money spent could have been a factor as well. Even so, people that are fond of this film or interested in it for the first time, should not be dissuaded by the picture quality. It is probably the best it has and will ever look and shouldn’t be too much of a distraction upon viewing.
Score/Audio Quality (4.5/5)
The Love of a Woman comes with a French LPCM track with optional English subtitles. The dialogue is crystal clear throughout and the subtitles seem accurate and all made sense. The score is quite subtle, but also varied. Though this is to be expected with the variety of scenes that had to be scored. The effects were also well done even though a few lacked a punch. The lack of extra sound during the fight scene made it almost comical, but I suppose it was actually more realistic since we are used to over embellishments in most films nowadays.
Special Features (2/5)
In Search of Jean Gremillon (1:36:09) A feature length documentary that aired in 1969. It starts off very slowly as it just has people vaguely describing Jean Gremillon’s character and what it was like to work for/with him. Eventually it goes slightly more in depth with a few of his films, even showing clips up to 5 minutes long of the films. It did make me want to see some of his other works but overall gave me little info on the man himself. It’s not something I’ll watch again and would not recommend. If you are more familiar with his films, then it might be nice as a nostalgia trip.
- Blu-ray & DVD
- Disc Art
- Reversible Liner
- Clear Non-ECO Case
- Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Ginette Vincendeau (First Pressing Only)
- Aspect ratio: 1.37:1
- French LPCM 2.0 Mono
Runtime 103 Mins
The Love of a Woman Overall (3/5)
This Blu-ray of The Love of a Woman is somewhat hit and miss. The film itself was a nice overall treat though some of the technical merits could have used work. Likewise with the special features. However, I do realize that a film like this might have a small audience and to spend a lot of time and money on the transfer and create new special features may prevent us from getting other films out on Blu-ray. I’m glad this film did get released and I was still able to watch it in pretty decent quality.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.