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Don Juan DeMarco(1994)
Days before his scheduled retirement, a clinical psychiatrist treats a young man who believes he is the legendary lover Don Juan. During the sessions that ensue, the doctor is forced to rethink his beliefs about life, love and passion, and whether or not Don Juan's alive and well--and sitting in his office.
For more about Don Juan DeMarco and the Don Juan DeMarco Blu-ray release, see Don Juan DeMarco Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on April 12, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Marlon Brando, Johnny Depp, Faye Dunaway, Rachel Ticotin, Talisa Soto, Carmen Argenziano
Director: Jeremy Leven
» See full cast & crew
Don Juan DeMarco Blu-ray Review
"This would have been a very good time for me to lie. But truth is a terrible habit."
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, April 12, 2012
Hollywood has a long-standing love affair with psychiatric care... or rather the romanticization of psychiatric care. The charming, endearingly delusional patient. The dearly devoted doctor. The unorthodox treatment plan. The heartfelt breakthrough. The rosy road to a full and miraculous recovery. And there isn't a movie that encapsulates that union of silver screen and doe-eyed psychiatry more than writer/director Jeremy Leven's Don Juan DeMarco. A fairy tale in every sense -- a fairy tale within a fairy tale really -- the film has a strange aura about it; a hypnotic charisma and lust for life that speaks to the heart yet boggles the mind. For those open to Leven's sweet nothings and idealistic musings, though, it's as entertaining as it is enchanting and as sweeping as it is infectious.
When a mysterious masked man (Johnny Depp) declares himself to be legendary lover Don Juan, climbs atop a roadside billboard and demands a duel in the hopes of dying an honorable death, he attracts the attention of soon-to-be-retired psychiatrist Dr. Jack Mickler (Marlon Brando). With ten days to cure the young man -- without the use of medication, which the good doctor believes will only splinter his new patient's already fragile mental state -- Mickler and his fellow staff members find themselves caught up in Juan's fantasy world, so much so that many of them begin making dramatic changes in their personal lives. Dr. Mickler is especially taken with the young man's passion and bravado and, feeling more alive than he has in decades, sets out to rekindle his relationship with his wife, Marilyn (Faye Dunaway). But who is Don Juan really? What elements of his fantasies are taken from his real life? Will the inevitable truth overshadow the aging psychiatrist's late-life lessons? Or will the truth only intensify Mickler's desire to take control of his twilight years?
Leven's film is pure fantasy, from Mickler's out-of-the-box methodology to the unbridled attraction every nurse in striking distance feels for Depp's smooth-talking lothario to the flights of fancy that adorn Juan's stories, all of which unfold wildly and wistfully as the young man weaves his tallest tales. But it's the fact that Leven doesn't take things too seriously that makes Don Juan DeMarco so uniquely engrossing. That and the complete investment of his leads, all of whom bring their A-games to what could have been a B-level debacle. Depp, spinning delightful stories and wooing the hardest of hearts, has an absolute ball; as do we, right along with him. He doesn't play Don Juan, he delves into the delusion that is Don Juan. Meanwhile, Brando, well past his prime, slowly comes to life on screen, drinking in every scene with renewed gusto and unmistakable sincerity; more so than the late actor had in years. And Dunaway, draped in an ease and effortlessness befitting her grace, grounds the burgeoning trio wonderfully, walking the finest of lines as Mickler's voice of reason and his muse.
The supporting cast struggles with Leven's intended tone, I'll admit, and the ladies of Don Juan's fantasies and real life seem to have been plucked off the street by a desperate casting director with a hastily scribbled call sheet, sure. The young man's mother, lovers, and one true love are either too stiff or too maudlin, teetering from overly smitten to overly wooden to overly comedic. Even Depp is unsure of how to handle his more inexperienced co-stars; particularly French beauty Géraldine Pailhas, who doesn't give him much to work with beyond lovely lines and supple skin. Juan's true identity and back story come as a disappointment too, as does Leven's blissfully pretentious ending, which isn't really an ending at all. As it turns out, the real world isn't kind to Don Juan DeMarco. Most of its characters are mere caricatures, its paths are fraught with plot holes and teeming with dead ends, and its psychiatry and institutional logic are a joke. Rather than give the real Juan a tragic tale -- a lost love, a painful upbringing, a devastating affliction -- Leven settles for something much too trivial and, frankly, much too ordinary to justify such a rich fantasy world and stirring philosophy. The brief suggestion that maybe, just maybe, the young man is somehow Don Juan in the flesh is even more of a derailment, and only distracts from Depp, Brando and Dunaway's terrific performances.
Be that as it may, the magic and mystery of Don Juan DeMarco -- the daydreams and passions, the figments of a young man's imagination and the culmination of an old man's life and career -- eclipse the film's shortcomings. So come for the cast, stay for the performances, and live for the magic-of-cinema moment. Depp's Don Juan wouldn't have it any other way.
Don Juan DeMarco Blu-ray, Video Quality
Don Juan DeMarco seduces with an alluring 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that will leave you breathless... so long as you don't examine it too closely. Thin edge halos and intermittent crush sully the otherwise filmic presentation, as does a bit of elevated noise, even though it never becomes a serious concern. But aside from those small, easily overlooked blemishes, there isn't really much to complain about. The film's modest veneer of grain has been preserved, fine textures are untainted and confidently resolved, edges are sharp and well defined, and delineation is decidedly decent (give or take an overbearing shadow or two). Colors are rich and lovely as well, with gorgeous reds and oranges, sun-kissed primaries, and deep, passionate black levels. Fleshtones flush here and there but saturation is pleasing on the whole, lending warmth and sensuality to Ralf Bode's wistful photography. Best of all, artifacting, banding, aliasing and other unwelcome guests are nowhere to be found, meaning Don Juan DeMarco is given every opportunity to sweep viewers off their feet.
Don Juan DeMarco Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Warner's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track doesn't have a whole lot to work with, but it transports the listener into Don Juan's fantasies all the same, making the most of the real world while patiently waiting for the next flurry of storybook love, masked romance and sultry bravado. Dialogue is clean, clear and intelligible throughout, with Depp's lovelorn voice dancing nimbly atop the soundscape whenever Juan tells his tales. LFE output is restrained but gentlemanly, only asserting itself when Michael Kamen's score indulges in flamenco flourishes and stirring Spanish beats and Mexican rhythms. The rear speakers follow the LFE channel's lead, seasoning the soundfield with soft ambience, tender directional effects, and smooth, windswept pans. No one element stands out but, taken together, Don Juan DeMarco's seduction is made complete.
Don Juan DeMarco Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Blu-ray edition of Don Juan DeMarco doesn't offer much in the way of supplemental content other than an isolated score track, a Bryan Adams music video, and two theatrical trailers (one domestic, one international).
Don Juan DeMarco Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Don Juan DeMarco isn't nearly as memorable a film as it is entertaining a diversion, but for ninety-seven refreshingly disarming minutes, the magic it works is a welcome distraction from the cynical, cyclical self-love that seems to dominate modern movies. Depp, Brando and Dunaway are delightful, as is Leven's fantasy worlds, making it easy to overlook the film's flaws and sink into DeMarco's heavenly delusions. Fortunately, Warner's Blu-ray release makes it that much easier thanks to its excellent video transfer and absorbing DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. A deeper selection of special features would have been appreciated, but studios aren't exactly in the business of producing new content for relatively obscure early-90s flights of fancy. Ah well. Give Don Juan DeMarco a chance to win your hand. You might just be as pleasantly taken aback as I was.
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Don Juan DeMarco Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Don Juan DeMarco Blu-ray - December 14, 2011
New Line and Warner Home Entertainment will bring Don Juan DeMarco to Blu-ray next year. Academy Award-winner Marlon Brando (The Godfather) stars in this whimsical drama as a psychiatrist trying to cure a young man (Johnny Depp, Rango) of his delusion that he ...
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