The Lover on DVD
the Director of "The Bare?"
Jean-Jacques Annaud has brought us films like "The Bear," "Quest for
Fire," and "Enemy at the Gates." Each of these are beautifully shot and
Then there's The Lover, an unbelievably artsy fartsy attempt at cinema
erotica that borders on pornographic. But it's beautifully shot, and fairly
compelling in an extremely self indulgent way.
It's the story of a fifteen and a half year old girl (Jane March) who
enters into an ongoing affair with a rich Chinese man (Tony Leung), a
star-and-race -crossed relationship that could bet them both into a pile of
trouble if it became known. They meet regularly at his bachelor room, where
director Arnaud stages some sexual encounters that are so explicit in this
Unrated DVD (which supposedly contains an extra ten minutes than the "rated"
version) that one wonders if the actors are merely simulating or really
Rumors get out about the affair, naturally, and this leads to the
predictable culture and morality clash. In the end, the Chinaman goes ahead
with his arranged marriage and the young girl heads back to France as
Kind of a "coming of age" movie (with the emphasis on coming) The Lover
is the type of art film that garners all sorts of praise from the usual elites.
And it is gloriously, though darkly, shot on location in Vietnam.
But, unlike the quote on the box, from James Grant of Scene at the
movies, it is definitely NOT one of the best films of the decade, unless
perhaps you like going to the theater accompanied by an inflatable doll.
Still, March and Leung are both very good in their roles, March
particularly as the innocent who grows into a wannabe-whore and is proud of
The DVD is pretty good, for the most part. It's presented in anamorphic
widescreen, 16x9 TV compatible, at the 1.85:1 aspect ratio that completely
fills the 16x9 TV's screen. The picture is in places gorgeous, especially in
the close-ups (and needless to say the flesh tones come through very well!),
yet in other places it's very grainy. On the whole, we'd have to say it's about
average for a DVD.
English and French audio is supposedly Dolby Digital 2.0 channel stereo
surround, and it's balanced very well with all the sounds that should emanate
from the center front speaker very well placed. There isn't a lot of surround,
though we detected a little bit periodically, mostly in rain storm sounds. But
surround effects are few and far between so don't look at this disc as an audio
Extras on the disc include a couple of the usual "cinema facts" MGM
likes to put on the back of its DVD cases, as well as the original theatrical
trailer. Subtitles choices are French and Spanish.
The Lover from MGM Home Video
115 min. anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 TV compatible, Dolby Digital
2.0 channel stereo Surround
Starring Jane March, Tony Leung, narrated by Jeanne Moreau
Produced by Claude Berri , Jacques Tronel,
Written by Jean-Jacques Annaud, Gérard Brach, Directed by Jean-Jacques
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