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A common thief (Depardieu) breaks into the house of a professional dominatrix (Ogier), and begins to help her "train" her clients...
For more about Maitresse and the Maitresse Blu-ray release, see the Maitresse Blu-ray Review
Starring: Gérard Depardieu, Bulle Ogier, André Rouyer
Director: Barbet Schroeder
» See full cast & crew
Maitresse Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, November 12, 2012
Barbet Schroeder's "Maitresse" (1975) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of the British Film Institute. The supplemental features included on this release are theatrical trailers and an exclusive new video interview with Dr. Patricia MacCormack and Edward Lamberti. The release also arrives with a 28-page illustrated booklet featuring a new essay by Dr. Patricia MacCormack, new interview with director Barbet Schroeder, notes on the film's history with the BBFC by Craig Lapper, and director and cast biographies. In French, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked". Please be advised that the film contains explicit footage that is not appropriate for minors!
Shortly after he arrives in Paris, small-time thief Olivier (Gerard Depardieu, Novecento, Barocco) meets an old friend who sells art books to make ends meet. Olivier joins him and they go to work. In a wealthy district of the city, they knock on Ariane's (Bulle Ogier, The Valley, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie) door. She refuses to buy one of their overpriced books and tells them not to waste their time with the apartment below hers because the neighbors are on the French Riviera.
Olivier and his friend break into the apartment and discover that it is in fact a large S&M chamber, full of kinky costumes, whips, chains, and all sorts of other toys. Before they could leave, Ariane, dressed as a dominatrix, and her not so friendly Doberman Texas enter the apartment. She invites Olivier to participate in one of her sessions, but cuffs his friend. Olivier is asked to pee on a man wearing a leather mask, while Ariane repeatedly warns the man to behave. After the session is over, Ariane pays Olivier and tells him that he is free to go. Much to her surprise, however, he invites her to have dinner with him.
Olivier and Ariane fall in love. When she does not work in the chamber, they make love, go to expensive restaurants and travel to the countryside to relax. Olivier meets many of Ariane's clients, many of whom are wealthy men and women with families and plenty of friends. Eventually, he begins to question his relationship with Ariane, who also comes to realize that with her lover next to her she may have to change her lifestyle.
The strength of this once quite controversial film comes from the frankness with which it sheds light on a culture that is often misunderstood or simply ignored. There are many graphic sequences in it, some borderline shocking, but the tone of the film remains respectful. This makes all the difference.
The focus of attention is on the character transformations Olivier and Ariane undergo after they begin their relationship. As they reevaluate their lifestyles and struggle to restore normality in them, with the other now expected to have a part in it, director Barbet Schroeder also invites the viewer to reassess pain, what it means to give and receive pain. This is accomplished through observation of rituals and games that involve pain, all of which are devoid of glamor and sleaze.
The complete lack of sex also helps Schroeder's cause. In other words, the rituals and games are not filmed to provoke certain reactions; their purpose is to show what type of pain those who demand and receive it are willing to tolerate.
The film does have a lighter, more casual side. For example, there are numerous sequences in which Olivier attempts to restore 'proper order' in Ariane's life that are hugely entertaining. This is also the case with a couple of sequences where he is asked by Ariane to entertain some of her wealthy clients.
Depardieu and Ogier are fantastic together. Depardieu is full of energy, at times looking appropriately brash, and elsewhere looking genuinely confused. His performance in Maitresse reminds a lot about his contribution to Bertrand Blier's terrific Going Places. Ogier, one of the great French actresses from the '70s and '80s, is absolutely spectacular as the elegant dominatrix.
Maitresse was lensed by the legendary Spanish cinematographer Nestor Almendros, who worked with many of the greatest European directors from the last century, including Eric Rohmer, Maurice Pialat, and Francois Truffaut.
Note: The Blu-ray release of Barbet Schroeder's Maitresse contains the film's fully uncut version.
Maitresse Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.67:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Barbet Schroeder's Maitresse arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of the British Film Institute.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"The film was transfered in High-Definition from the original 35mm interpositive. The audio was transfered from the original magnetic tracks. The picture was restored using HD-DVNR and MTI restoration systems, removing dirt, scratches and debris, repairing damaged frames and improving stability issues. Audio issues such as pops, crackle, and noise/hiss were also improved. The new transfer was supervised and approved by director Barbet Schroeder.
Technical Producer: James White (BFI).
Technical Assistant: Douglas Weir (BFI).
Telecine Colorist: Fabien Napoli (Scanlab, Paris).
Picture Grading: Stephen Bearman (Deluxe Digital, London).
Picture Restoration: Clayton Baker, David Burt, Tom Wiltshire (Deluxe Digital, London). "
The presentation is everything I hoped it would be - a dramatic upgrade in quality over Criterion's R1 DVD release of the film. (I don't have a R2 DVD release of the film in my library and cannot comment on how it compares). Detail and clarity are wonderful. The footage from inside the chamber, for instance, now has plenty of depth, and definition is so much better. The low noise from the DVD release is also nowhere to be seen. Contrast levels are also stable. There are various adjustments in the film's color-scheme as well. It appears that some of the light greens and blues have been elevated. The blacks are better saturated. Furthermore, there are no traces of excessive degraining. Problematic sharpening corrections have not been performed either. Generally speaking, grain is mostly well resolved and evenly distributed. There are no large damage marks, cuts, debris, or warps. This being said, compression could have been even better (see screencapture #14) to avoid light artifacts. Still, I am convinced that anyone who has seen Maitresse on DVD will be tremendously satisfied with the film's transition to Blu-ray. I most certainly am. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Maitresse Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray disc: French LPCM 2.0. For the record, the BFI have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
The audio treatment is as pleasing as the video treatment. One could immediately tell that depth and stability are improved, while any background hiss that might have been present was removed. Carlos D'Alessio's soundtrack does not have a prominent role in the film. The dialog is crisp, clean, stable, and easy to follow. The English translation is very good.
Maitresse Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Maitresse Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Thirty seven years after its release, Barbet Schroeder's Maitresse remains a fascinating film to behold. I think that even today trying to categorize it is beyond pointless. It is easy to say, however, what it isn't -- it is not an exploitation film. If its subject matter appeals to you, see it. I guarantee you will like it. Using a brand new high-definition transfer supervised and approved by its director, Maitresse looks beautiful on Blu-ray, the best it ever has. The British Film Institute deserve a lot of credit for bringing Barbet Schroeder's early films to Blu-ray as all of them looked quite poor on DVD. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Maitresse Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Maitresse Blu-ray (Updated) - October 1, 2012
The British Film Institute has revealed that it is planning to release a Dual Format Edition of director Barbet Schroeder's Maitresse (1975), starring Gérard Depardieu, Bulle Ogier and André Rouyer. The preliminary release date set by the distributor is November ...
Maitresse Blu-ray Screenshots
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