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Antoine et Antoinette(1947)
She's working in a big store, he's a typographer and they lost their winning lotery ticket.
For more about Antoine et Antoinette and the Antoine et Antoinette Blu-ray release, see Antoine et Antoinette Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on January 16, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Roger Pigaut, Claire Mafféi, Noël Roquevert
Director: Jacques Becker
» See full cast & crew
Antoine et Antoinette Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, January 16, 2013
Screened at the Cannes Film Festival, Jacques Becker's "Antoine et Antoinette" (1947) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of French label Gaumont. The only supplemental feature on the disc is Pierre-Henri Gibert's documentary film "Jacques Becker, le gout des autres". In French, with optional English and French SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-Free.
Antoine (Roger Pigaut, The Most Beautiful Life) and Antoinette (Claire Maffei, Les dieux du dimanche) are madly in love with each other. They've thought about having a baby, but have agreed that they cannot yet afford one. Maybe in a couple of years, when they would have saved enough and moved to a bigger apartment, they could become parents. For the time being, however, they are just happy to have each other.
Mr. Roland (Noel Roquevert, Diabolique), the owner of the local grocery store, is also happy to have Antoinette in the neighborhood. He would be even happier if she would agree to work for him so that he could talk to her for as long as he wants, perhaps even take her out for a dinner when Antoine isn't around. To let her realize how much he really likes her, Mr. Roland regularly gives Antoinette expensive chocolates and cans of imported sardines.
One day, fate finally smiles on Antoine and Antoinette. They purchase a lottery ticket and win the jackpot – 800,000 francs. Antoine immediately declares that he is going to buy the big and fancy motorcycle he has seen in a nearby store, while Antoinette announces that she would start looking for a bigger apartment. Both then agree that they ought to quit their low-paying jobs. But not until Antoine presents the winning ticket to the lottery officials and collects the money.
On the following morning Antoine grabs the ticket and heads to the lottery office. Along the way, however, he loses his wallet, with the ticket in it. Devastated and feeling ashamed, he walks to the nearby park, where he tries to recollect his thoughts and decide how to tell Antoinette that he has destroyed their future. Meanwhile, concerned that Antoine has been gone for hours, Antoinette asks her boss to let her leave earlier so that she could look for her husband. When he refuses, she tells him that she would leave without his permission - and loses her job. Shortly after, she discovers Antoine in the local pub, where a wedding celebration has just started.
This charming film by the great Jacques Becker oozes optimism. It promotes the idea that good things always happen to good people (the poor) if they work hard and keep believing that success is possible. At times it looks a bit naive, but its enthusiasm is impossible not to admire.
As Antoine and Antoinette's love is repeatedly tested, one gets a real sense of the dilemmas the French working class faced immediately after WW2. This isn't to imply that Becker was looking to deliver an important political message with the film – after all Antoine and Antoinette is a romantic comedy - but the type of attention that is given to the daily struggle to make ends meet for instance clearly suggests a very specific type of social awareness, perhaps even solidarity with the struggles of the poor.
The light humor, however, prevents the film from evolving into something that was not meant to be. The different sequences involving Mr. Roland, in particular, are wonderfully scripted and acted. Though somewhat predictable, the delightful big wedding sequence at the end also ties up the film's loose ends quite nicely.
Antoine and Antoinette was lensed by cinematographer Pierre Montazel, who also collaborated with Becker on his classic gangster drama Touchez Pas Au Grisbi.
Note: In 1947, Antoine and Antoinette won Prix du meilleur film psychologique et d'amour (Best Psychological and Love Film Award) at the Cannes Film Festival.
Antoine et Antoinette Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Jacques Becker's Antoine and Antoinette arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of French label Gaumont.
There are obvious traces of various denoising corrections throughout the entire film. While not as aggressive as those seen on the different Blu-ray releases of Marcel Carne's Les Enfants du Paradis, the corrections have clearly destabilized shadow definition, contrast, and clarity. Where light is restricted, color saturation also does not impress - more often than not there are large blocks of gray where there should be proper blacks (see screencapture #1). During some of the daylight sequences light grain occasionally becomes visible, but it is not consistent because it struggles with the different filters. There are no serious stability issues to report in this review. Debris, cuts, warps, and stains are also nowhere to be seen. To sum it all up, this is arguably one of Gaumont's most frustrating releases. I could tell that Antoine and Antoinette's restoration produced excellent results, but I could also tell that consequently the film was excessively filtered. Needless to say, this was a poor decision. (Note: This is a Region-Free Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you will be able to play it on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location. For the record, there is not problematic PAL or 1080/50i content preceding the disc's main menu).
Antoine et Antoinette Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray disc: French DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0. For the record, Gaumont have provided optional English and French SDH subtitles for the main feature.
The lossless track serves the film very well. The dialog is crisp, stable, and easy to follow. It is also free of problematic background hiss. Jean-Jacques Grünenwald's score also gets a decent boost, with the strings in particular sounding quite lovely, though the overall range of nuanced dynamics is indeed quite limited. The English translation is excellent.
Antoine et Antoinette Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Antoine et Antoinette Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I have mixed feelings about Gaumont's Blu-ray release of Jacques Becker's Antoine and Antoinette. The film is wonderful and it has been beautifully restored, but someone at Gaumont decided that it had to be degrained. It was a poor decision. I still think that it is worth picking up as it looks far better than the only DVD release of the film that I have seen, and because I don't believe that we will see an English-friendly release in North America, but overall this is indeed a missed opportunity. (If interested in Becker's work, also see StudioCanal's beautiful Blu-ray release of arguably his best film, Casque d'Or).
Antoine et Antoinette Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Two Jacques Becker Films Heading to Blu-ray - June 14, 2012
French distributors Gaumont will add two films directed by Jacques Becker to their Classics Collection: Antoine et Antoinette a.k.a Antoine and Antoinette (1947) and Les amants de Montparnasse a.k.a Modigliani of Montparnasse (1958). Both films will be available ...
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