Sound: C+ Extras: D Film: B-
Beth (Judith Godreche) thinks she is happy with her
boyfriend, when he disrupts her peace of mind by daring her to show him her
love by sleeping with “the ugliest man she can find”. That is the opening scene from Benoit Jacquot’s The
Disenchanted (1990), which sounds like a premise that could only get silly
and go downhill, but like the similar disruption of assumed happiness in
Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut (1999) is only the beginning of a more
interesting journey. Instead of what
sounds like a bad teen comedy, the smart, mature film examines how idiotic
people can be in making good situations bad, and bad ones worse.
She still lives at home with her mother, that is
reasonable at 17, but her mother has taken up with an old man who is literally
referred to as Sugardad. No secret
what’s going on there, but Beth will not even speak to him. She also has a younger brother and more
friends than one would imagine with such a boyfriend. She also runs into 40-year-old Alphonse, who might offer an
alternative in her life she was not even expecting, but is she together enough
to be in any relationship.
Godreche is still the lead and has to carry this film,
which she does quite well. The entire
cast is convincing, and the screenplay by Jacquot is paced well, making us
wonder what will happen next. This
keeps us watching, and the time spent is worth it. One way to look at it is that it does character studies that are
not in-depth, but deep enough of each character that you buy it.
The letterboxed 1.85 X 1 image looks like a PAL recycle
with many pixelization problems. It is
like looking at the film through a digital screen door, but color is not a
total disaster, nor is the scenery. Caroline
Champetier’s cinematography is solid, but this transfer simply does not do
justice to her work. The Dolby Digital
2.0 Mono fares little better, but sounds its age. There are no extras.
For being touted as a sexy film, there is really no sex in
it, and its 78-minutes length does not make me think anything might have been
cut out. Jacquot went on to greater
commercial and critical success with A Single Girl five years later and
has gone back and fourth between theatrical films and French teleproductions
ever since. The Disenchanted is
not groundbreaking, but it is intelligent.
- Nicholas Sheffo