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Two cousins of differing personalities come to live together in Paris.
For more about Les Cousins and the Les Cousins Blu-ray release, see Les Cousins Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on March 20, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Gérard Blain, Jean-Claude Brialy, Juliette Mayniel, Guy Decomble, Michèle Méritz, Stéphane Audran
Director: Claude Chabrol
» See full cast & crew
Les Cousins Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, March 20, 2013
Winner of the prestigious Golden Bear Award at the Berlin International Film Festival, Claude Chabrol's "Les cousins" a.k.a. "The Cousins" (1959) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Eureka Entertainment. The supplemental features on the disc include the film's original theatrical trailer; part two of Pierre-Henri Gibert's documentary film "Chabrol Launches the Wave"; and a segment from the 1964 omnibus film "Les plus belles escroqueries du monde" a.k.a "The World's Most Beautiful Swindlers". The release also arrives with a 36-page illustrated booklet with writings on the film. In French, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
Charles (Gerard Blain, Le beau Serge, La bonne soupe), a naïve but ambitious young man, arrives in Paris to study and live with his bohemian cousin Paul (Jean-Claude Brialy, The Phantom of Liberty, A Nudez de Alexandra). He has promised his mother that he will stay out of trouble and do whatever it takes to get a degree.
Paul immediately takes his cousin on a trip around the city. Eventually the two end up at Paul's favorite club, full of young and spoiled people looking for excitement. There Charles falls under the spell of Florence (Juliette Mayniel, Les yeux sans visage, Bluebeard), a flirty beauty who immediately realizes that he isn't like Paul. But before he could ask for her number, she leaves.
Soon after, Charles and Florence meet again, in Paul's apartment, during a wild party that nearly turns into an orgy. The two talk and kiss. Before the party is over, Charles is convinced that Florence is the girl he should spend the rest of his life with. They arrange to see each other again.
On the following day, Charles reveals to his sober cousin that he has fallen in love with Florence. Then, feeling inspired, he runs to a nearby bookshop to buy a few of Balzac's best novels. The owner (Guy Decomble, The 400 Blows, Bob le flambeur), who immediately recognizes that Charles is a fresh import from the countryside and in love, gives him a couple of books for free.
Meanwhile, Paul decides to prevent what he believes will be a tragic relationship because his cousin does not understand that Parisian girls like to play games with men like him. He also understands that there is little Charles could offer to a girl like Florence, who is used to live the easy life.
Claude Chabrol's second feature film offers a reversed scenario of his first film, Le beau Serge. This time around the main protagonist is a stranger in a big city where people live their lives in a way that at first confuses him and later on profoundly frustrates him. (In Le beau Serge, after years of living in Paris the main protagonist travels to the countryside and discovers that his best friend has become an alcoholic).
Les cousins is essentially what the French refer to as comedie dramatique, a film that has a light, mostly casual tone but houses serious overtones. Some of the very best comedie dramatique films also tend to be notably sarcastic, occasionally even provocative.
Les cousins is neither sarcastic nor provocative, but it isn't entirely apolitical film either. For a short period of time Charles' struggles to adapt are rather entertaining, but then the film takes a very unusual turn. The series of events that lead to it feature interesting observations about morality, success, friendship and love.
The strength of the film, however, lies in the characterization. Halfway through, masks begin to fall and the main protagonists reveal identities that immediately change the viewer's perception about them. After that it is difficult to like any of them. Interestingly enough, even their most controversial moves are justified with valid "reasons" - not necessarily forgivable but certainly understandable, though also regrettable and clearly avoidable.
Note: In 1959, Les cousins won the prestigious Golden Bear Award at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Les Cousins Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Claude Chabrol's Les cousins arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Eureka Entertainment.
The high-definition transfer is very impressive. I don't have Gaumont's Blu-ray release to run some direct comparisons, but I suspect that the French release looks identical. I have Criterion's release, whose high-definition transfer was also sourced from Gaumont's restoration of Les cousins, and I could not see any important discrepancies to address in our review. Detail and depth are terrific, while clarity and image depth are consistently pleasing. Grain is well resolved and easy to see throughout the entire film. There are no traces of problematic denoising and degraining corrections. I also did not see any traces of sharpening corrections. Large damage marks, debris, and scratches have also been removed as best as possible. To sum it all up, Les cousins has a stable and very convincing organic look. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B and Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Les Cousins Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray disc: French LPCM 2.0. For the record, Eureka Entertainment have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
The lossless track opens up the film exceptionally well. The range of dynamics, however, is unlikely to impress viewers that enjoy the aggressive audio tracks contemporary films often have. With a few minor exceptions, mostly during sequences where the music has a prominent role, the film's overall sound design is indeed quite modest. The dialog is crisp, always stable, clean, and easy to follow. The English translation is very good.
Les Cousins Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Les Cousins Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Claude Chabrol's Les cousins arrives rather late on Blu-ray in the United Kingdom, but I think it is fair to say that the wait was well worth it. Eureka Entertainment's release uses as a foundation Gaumont's new restoration of the film. The same restoration was also used for the French release, as well as Criterion's Region-A "locked" release. Eureka Entertainment's release also adds the supplemental features from the French release, with optional English subtitles, as well as a rather big illustrated booklet with writings on the film. Naturally, this makes the release very easy to recommend to English-speakers residing in Region-B territories. I would also recommend this release to viewers interested in Chabrol's work residing in Region-A territories, provided, of course, they can play Region-B "locked" discs. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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