• Shock Treatment (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: October 27th, 2020.
    Director: Alain Jessua
    Cast: Alain Delon, Annie Girardot, Robert Hirsch
    Year: 1973
    Purchase From Amazon

    Shock Treatment – Movie Review:

    Hélène Masson (Annie Girardot) is an attractive and well off middle-aged woman who has recently started suffering from depression. To combat this, she checks in to the Devilers Clinic, an exclusive treatment center on a remote section of the scenic French coast. Here she meets an old friend named Gérôme Savignat (Robert Hirsch), a gay man who has had some relationship troubles as of late, not to mention some financial problems. Regardless, they’re pleased to be reunited, and Gérôme speaks highly of the treatment that the clinic offers.

    Eventually, Hélène comes face to face with Devilers (Alain Delon) himself and while she denies to the other female patients that she isn’t particularly attracted to him, it isn’t long before they’re sleeping together. Hélène becomes concerned about João (Joao Pareira Lopez), one of the Portuguese servants that do all of the grunt work, but when Devilers tells her that he was sent home, she pays it no mind. She also starts to really react to the treatment that she and the others have received from Devilers unusual methods, feeling better shortly after receiving them. When Gérôme is found dead at the bottom of a cliff, however, she starts to wonder if what the cops confirmed was suicide really wasn’t, and at this point, starts trying to figure out what Devilers and the rest are really up to here.

    Directed by Alain Jessua and released in 1973, is an interesting look at bourgeois privilege taken to the extreme. Deviler is fabulously wealthy, able to afford his own plane that he uses really just to get away from the patients who fund him, but bore him to tears. He has no qualms about sleeping with any of the women that come his way, and he seems to care not about those who can’t afford what they want from him. Delon (who, along with most of the other main cast members, goes full frontal in a skinny dipping scene!) plays this part very well, at first a handsome and charming character that becomes far less likeable to both Hélène and, hopefully, the audience as well once his true nature starts to show. Annie Girardot is excellent here as well, likeable and vulnerable (both important qualities in making this character one that we can get behind), well cast in the role and attractive enough that you can see why Delon’s sly doctor would be into her. She handles the material very well, crafting an intelligent lead character with plenty of style.

    Released in the UK as Doctor In The Nude, the film features some pretty impressive production values. The cinematography from Jacques Robin is top notch, it does a great job not just of capturing the beautiful scenery that surrounds the main location, but in capturing the facial expressions and reactions of the different cast members as well. The score from Alain Jessua and René Koering is quirky, sometimes genuinely bizarre, but it suits the tone of the film quite well and does a nice job of keeping us things a little off kilter. Jessua directs Shock Treatment well, controlling the pace and definitely going for more of a slow burn here than a traditional horror picture’s speedier pacing. If you pay close attention you’ll probably figure out the big reveal that happens at the end of the movie, but otherwise, this shapes up really nicely as an effective thriller.

    Shock Treatment – Blu-ray Review:

    Shock Treatment arrives on region A Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition widescreen framed at 1.66.1 from a transfer “scanned uncut in 2k from the original interpositive” presumably provided by Studio Canal (the feature opens with their logo) and taking up 27GBs of space on the 50GB disc. The picture quality here is really strong. There are a couple of spots where the scenes that take place outside at night look a tad murky but otherwise, things shape up quite nicely. Colors are nicely defined, reproduced with lifelike accuracy, and skin tones look nice and realistic. Black levels are solid and detail is generally quite strong, with some impressive depth noticeable, especially during those scenes that take place outside near the cliffs and shore. No problems with any noise reduction or edge enhancement and compression artifacts are held in check.

    Your audio choices on this disc are 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono French or English with optional subtitles provided in English for the French track and optional English SDH offered for the English dub. Unless you have an aversion to subtitles, the French track is the way to go here as that’s the original language track for the movie. It sounds quite good, nicely balanced and giving more depth to the seriously bizarre soundtrack than you’d probably expect. No problems with any hiss, distortion or sibilance to report and the subtitles are easy to read and free of any noticeable typos.

    Extras start off with Alain Jessua - The Lone Deranger, which is a featurette that interviews Bernard Payen, the Curator at The Cinémathèque Française who was responsible for a retrospective showing of some of Jessua’s films in 2017. He speaks for twenty minutes about how the director was a contemporary of the Nouvelle Vague but not a member of the gang, how he started working in the industry as a gofer before then getting all sorts of on the job training and gaining enough experience to make a short in 1956 and then move on to feature work a few years down the road. He also discusses the director’s interest in social science fiction, the themes that quite a few of his pictures explore, his working relationships with some of France’s biggest stars of the day, the enduring popularity of some of his pictures, and then the specifics of Shock Treatment and the themes that it subtly and not so subtly toys with. He also covers how his films deal not in black and white but grey areas as far as morality goes, the film's odd score, Delon's nude scene and the publicity that it brought to the film, details of Hélène's character and the director's use of unhappy endings in this and other pictures.

    Koering's Scoring is a twenty-four-minute interview with Soundtrack Composer René Koering. He talks quite candidly about how he feels the music he wrote for the director's films still feels fresh before then going on to talk about his education and training and what led to his getting work scoring motion pictures. He also talks about how going to Cannes led to his discovering how much more was out there in terms of film, the influence of Fellini and Bernard Herrmann, specifics of industry requirements and how they affect scores, different composers whose work he really appreciates, getting to know Jessua and then how and why he started working with the man, his appreciation of the director's work and ability to tackle certain subjects and how unconventional Shock Treatment was by the standards of the day. The second half covers how he decided to create a less conventional score for the movie and record the score in Sao Paolo, working with bossa nova singer Martinho da Vila, needing the drums on the score to feel violent, the quality of the musicians he was able to work with on the project, going on to then work on a score for Faust and working with Jessua on a few other projects.

    Director's Disorder interviews Director Alain Jessua himself for ten-minutes. In this piece, he talks about why he thinks true heroes are always crazy to a certain extent, how he always forced himself to write his screenplays in a literary form, coming up with the scene where the doctor swims nude in the ocean with his 'disciples,' having to find the balance between visuals and the literary side of film work, how the film deals with the obsession of eternal youth, why he never did a genuine horror film and how he feels, with Shock Treatment, he was able to tackle a genuine social issue in the way the he took on mankind's quest for eternal happiness.

    The fourth and final featurette is Drumrunning - René Koering Commentary on Three Sequences. Here, over eight-minutes, the composer talks about the music used in the opening credits sequence and the recurring theme that is introduced in that segment, the music used in the sauna scene and the beach sequence and lastly the music used during the film's finale. It's very high life stuff, but quite interesting.

    Finishing up the supplemental package is a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection.

    Shock Treatment – The Final Word:

    Shock Treatment is a solid slow burn thriller with some great performances from its two main leads. Severin Films has done a fine job bringing it to Blu-ray with a strong presentation and a nice selection of interesting extra features. Recommended!

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

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Matt H.'s Avatar
      Matt H. -
      DOCTOR IN THE NUDE - now that's a title!