• Love Of A Woman, The



    Released by: Arrow Academy
    Released on: August 22nd, 2017.
    Director: Jean Grémillon
    Cast: Micheline Presle, Massimo Girotti, Gaby Morlay
    Year: 1953
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    The Movie:

    Jean Grémillon’s final film, 1953’s The Love Of A Woman (L'Amour d'une Femme), tells the story of Marie Prieur (Micheline Presle), a twenty-eight year old woman who has recently finished medical school and is now officially a doctor. When the movie begins, she’s to setup ship on a small island off the French coast called Oudessant. When she does, she’s somewhat surprised to see that the mostly male population of the small town isn’t particularly excited to see her. The only one who shows any enthusiasm upon her arrival is her former teacher, Mademoiselle Leblanc (Gaby Morlay), a kindly, older woman who Marie clearly has some affection for.

    Regardless, Marie goes about her business as best as she is able and remains committed to doing the best job that she can. The island needs a doctor after all, even if the bulk of her patients are misogynist and don’t feel she could do as good a job as a man could. As the story progresses, she meets an engineer named Andre (Massimo Girotti). The two fall in love quite quickly, but as their romance blossoms, her attention to detail subsides and she starts slipping up in her professional life, now too preoccupied with her personal life to do the job as well as she should.

    Grémillon’s picture was ahead of its time in many ways. Women were not nearly as common in the work force in the mid-fifties as they are now and it would have been rarer still to have a woman working as a doctor. This is reflected in the attitudes of many of the townspeople who greet her initially with quite a bit of trepidation. As she starts to win them over, she then falls for Andre, which causes her to have to try to balance both sides of her life – it proves quite difficult, leaving her with a tough choice to make before the film is over.

    A very well shot drama, the film is beautiful to look at. The cinematography is crisp, the black and white film stock giving the picture an interesting atmosphere. Rene Wheeler’s camerawork does a very nice job of capturing the remote island locations where all of this is placed, creating a picture that manages to showcase visuals that both accentuate how remote this place is with how naturally beautiful it is.

    The performances are very strong here. Massimo Girotti is excellent as the chief distraction in the film. As Andrew we really do get the impression that he cares for Marie quite a bit. Likewise, Gaby Morlay is very good in her supporting role. Really though, it’s Micheline Presle who makes the biggest impression here. As Marie she’s a very sympathetic character. She wants to do the most good that she can but the heart wants what the heart wants. Her performance is excellent.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The Love Of A Woman arrives on a 50GB Blu-ray disc framed at 1.33.1, which appears to be the picture’s original aspect ratio. This is a very impressive transfer. Black levels are solid while whites look nice and clean, leaving a richly detailed grey scale covering all points in between. The film’s grain structure remains intact, as it should, but the picture is never distracting in that regard. There’s virtually no print damage here at all, the picture is virtually pristine.. Detail and texture are generally very strong throughout – really, nothing to complain about here, this is a very strong image and a gorgeous looking presentation.

    The only audio option here is a French language LPCM 2.0 Mono track with optional subtitles provided in English only. The single channel track is fine, there are no audible issues with any hiss or distortion, the dialogue stays clean and well balanced throughout.

    There’s really only one extra on the disc, but it’s a big one – the ninety-six minute long documentary In Search of Jean Grémillon made in 1969. This feature lengthy overview of the director’s career is made up of interviews with director René Clair, archivist Henri Langlois, actors Micheline Presle and Pierre Brasseur and quite a few more that knew and worked with the director before his passing. It’s an in-depth and informative look back at the influence Grémillon’s films and at their unique cultural importance.

    Aside from that the disc includes menus and chapter selection. As this is a combo pack release the clear Blu-ray keepcase also holds a DVD version of the movie as well as, in the first pressing at least, an insert booklet containing credits for the film and the Blu-ray release as well as an essay on the film by Ginette Vincendeau. Additionally Arrow provide some rather elegant looking reversible sleeve art featuring the original one sheet image on one side and some newly commissioned artwork by Jennifer Dionisio on the reverse.

    The Final Word:

    The Love Of A Woman is a genuinely moving drama that makes great use of a talented cast and that features some genuinely striking camera work. Anyone able to appreciate good acting and great storytelling should have no trouble seeing the merits of a film like this, and Arrow’s Blu-ray release presents the film in beautiful shape and with an impressive career spanning documentary exploring its director’s life and times. If this isn’t necessarily the type of film people come to this site to read about, it is never the less highly recommended.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!