One Deadly Summer AKA L'été meurtrier (Blu-ray) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - Cult Films
Review written by and copyright: Rick Curzon (22nd July 2019).
The Film

Isabelle Adjani plays Elle, a provocative 19-year-old whose move, with her mother and sick father, to a sleepy Provence village sets the locals afire with lust and gossip. She soon finds a suitor in gentle Pin-Pon (Alain Souchon), the local mechanic, and they marry shortly after. Then the tone shifts, when a dark secret emerges from her past, the film becomes more complex and Adjani’s character reveals a disturbing side as she manipulates events and men in order to seek revenge for an outrage inflicted in her childhood…

With more César Awards than any other French actor and a host of Oscar® nominations, Adjani (Queen Margot, Camille Claudel) is one of the most celebrated French star of all time. Her acting talent and staggering sensual beauty both reaching a career-defining high in Becker’s ONE DEADLY SUMMER (L’ETE MEURTRIER), which became the highest grossing French film of the year and the prototype for the erotic thrillers which Hollywood made in its wake.

Video

A very French production, and I say that with great respect, with stunning summery scenery and exceptional cinematography. The first 90 minutes are great with plenty of humour and interest, but after a while it starts to drag and I wanted to know what was going on rather than more scenes of Adjani pissing folks off. It's much more of a psychological drama that a thriller with that aspect being handled in a subtle way more or less in the final quarter. In the end it's a good film but the grim ending is a letdown.

Stunningly shot by the director Jean Becker's brother Étienne, this film displays a love of the French countryside like you wouldn't believe! I wonder how many folks decided to take a holiday there after seeing this film. The underlying transfer handles the warm, but natural beauty of the colours well with no signs of unintended bleed with the exception of some in-camera filter work designed to create an effect; usually during daylight scenes and closeups.

Black levels are solid and deep with plenty of shadow detail and no signs of unintended crush. The grade has been very well handled overall with no major issues that I could see. This is most likely an off the shelf master and probably older, perhaps created for DVD releases. Contrast is well handled and manages to keep detail reasonable in the daylight scenes (i.e. most of the film).

However, the image is somewhat soft with detail coming through best in unfiltered, daylight scenes. I would've expected a little more detail in closeups than I'm seeing although grain is present it doesn't affect detail. The encode is not the strongest I've encountered but not the worst; a fair amount of noise can be seen if scrutinised, especially in skies and dark shadows. If you increase the sharpness to maximum on your display you'll see it very clearly and on projectors it'll stand out. With sharpness at normal levels (i.e. zero) the image is overall very pleasing, but the bigger your display the more noise you'll see.

I viewed this on a properly calibrated setup with sharpness set to zero; a 55" 4K display from a distance of ten feet. The image seemed stunning on my initial view, but when I put it through the ringer and gave some intense scrutiny it fell short slightly.

It's important to note that the vast majority of people who have well calibrated displays (up to approximately 55") and viewing from a appropriate distance (I checked as close as five feet) should have few issues with this transfer. It's a distinct improvement on standard definition but isn't optimal, but I do overall rate the image 'B'.

Comes with a DVD but it wasn't provided for review.

1080/24p / MPEG-4 AVC / 1.66:1 / 133:19

Audio

French LPCM 2.0 Mono
Subtitles: English (optional)

An excellent, lossless mono track that's been well looked after and well restored. Not a second of hiss and I heard no distortions at all. It has good high and low end; nothing to worry about at all; as good as it's going to get shy of a rebuild from the sound stems, and I'll bet credits to navy beans that'll not be happening anytime soon. My subwoofer even kicked in ever so slightly when people with deep voices were speaking.

I don't speak French but the subtitles seemed similarly excellent and thorough ('A+').

Extras

"JB: Romancier-Scénariste-Réalisateur (1931-2003)" 2007 documentary on screenwriter Sebastien Japrisot (45:41)

Solid retrospective on novelist and screenwriter Japrisot with contributions from writer Etienne de Montety and editor Henry Marcellin. There is a great deal of focus on both the original novel and in the film adaptation, both actually called "The Deadly Summer" in France. I wasn't keen on some of the stylistic choices in the shooting of the interviews with most of it in colour, B&W shots are dropped in obviously shot from a different angle at the same time (1080/24p).

"Interview with Jean Becker: September 2006" featurette (29:14)

Excellent interview in which Becker discusses the film.

Startup Trailers:
- The Battle of Algiers (1:49)
- La Dolce Vita (1:10)
- Juliet of the Spirits (1:16)


Standard trailers for forthcoming releases.

Packaging

Not provided for review but seems to be a 2-disc keepcase housed in a card slipcase.

Overall

A popular arthouse hit gets the HD treatment from Cult Films in the UK and overall it's a decent disc. Sound is as good as we can expect being a robust transcription of the original. The image would benefit from a stronger encode and more up to date transfer preferably at 4K, but it's still decent enough and will certainly do until the UHD Blu-ray gets done. Unlikely to happen, but we can wish! Technically minded collectors may wish to wait for a sale, but the vast majority of buffs out there will be more than happy with a day one purchase. Extras are very good and on point.

Recommended.

The Film: B- Video: B Audio: A+ Extras: B Overall: B

 


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