Camille (Emmanuelle Beart) is a talented violinist whose professional life is a never-ending marathon of recordings and exhausting rehearsals. When she meets Stephane (Daniel Auiteuil), the business associate of her new lover, something unusual happens -Camille falls madly in love with him, barely able to contain her emotions.
Stephane, a retired professor from the Paris Conservatoire, is also attracted to Camille. Intellectually! He is cold, meticulous, always willing to converse with Camille. Stephane finds pleasure in observing, exploring the minor faults that make human beings vulnerable. He sees and understands what others can't. Stephane is a perfectionist!
Camille however reads Stephane's behavior differently. She incorrectly assumes that he is playing an intellectual game meant to win her heart. After a series of meetings Camille finally confesses to Stephane that she has fallen in love with him. Stephane quickly "admits" that he has no interest in Camille. The young violinist is devastated.
Un Coeur En Hiver a.k.a Heart In Winter is a film that plays with the senses of its audience. Legendary director Claude Sautet who many years ago worked together with Georges Franju on Eyes Without a Face (1960) tells a story where the main characters are incredibly deceiving.
Camille, the beautiful violinist whose appearance in the first half of Heart In Winter suggests a confident individual with plenty of withstanding power, becomes a vulnerable, visibly hurt woman uncertain why the man she desires rejects her. Stephane, the introverted repairman whose talent to mend broken instruments has taken over his social skills, evolves into a man of snubbing precision. Stephane is incapable of loving another human being. Even though he needs Camille!
Heart in Winter is a spectacular entertainment for those who like their cinema unpolished. Dignity, loyalty, honesty are the key ingredients here complimenting an impossible affair where two people discover that they are not compatible. One of them realizes that the longer their relationship goes the harder it will be to walk out of it without hurting each other. The other is left struggling with what should have been obvious.
Finally, Heart In Winter also benefits from the spectacular music of Maurice Ravel, arguably the greatest French impressionist after Claude Debussy. An impeccable choice indeed as the fluid harmonies of the famous maestro mirror the conflicts raging in the two protagonists perfectly. Without a doubt Heart In Winter is a mature spectacle for mature audiences.
How Does the DVD Look?
Near perfect!! This newly restored HD transfer provided by Koch Lorber was personally supervised by the director of photography Yves Angelo and the results are simply breathtaking!! Flawless progressive transfer with deep and lush colors, impeccable contrast, and outstanding degree of detail is what we have here. Edge-enhancement is nowhere to be seen! I also could not spot even the tiniest bit of dirt (let alone damage). The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and enhanced for widescreen TV's and I can not put in words how happy I am with the way it holds blown through a digital projector – a pure delight.
Finally, I also would like to address the color scheme which seems completely different on this disc compared to what was released both in the UK and Australia (the two discs are identical). While the R2/R4 discs offered somewhat faded and "bleached" color scheme what the R1 disc offers is marvelous "earthy" colors that look natural and provide the film with a completely different feel. I am very, very impressed.
I do not know if this release is indicative for what we are bound to see from Koch Lorber in the future but if it is...buckle up! You have a serious competitor on the US market now that will create plenty of noise. It has been a long way coming and I am near ecstatic with these new developments. BRAVO Koch Lorber!!
How Does the DVD Sound?
Presented with the original French mono track and a more elaborate 5.1 mix the DVD sounds mighty impressive. The music of Ravel comes off the speakers with an amazing clarity while dialog is very easy to follow. To sum it all there is absolutely nothing here that I need to discuss: top job! With optional yellow English subtitles.
To compliment this outstanding presentation Koch Lorber have provided plenty of extras as well. First we have an interview with Claude Sautet in which he talks about his film and shares his thoughts on the characters (there is some interesting information on the book this film is based upon as well). Next, there is an excerpt from what appears to be a marvelous documentary on Claude Sautet which I assume was aired on French TV. Here the director again speaks about the history of this film, how it was conceived, the "true" story behind the two characters (again some interesting parallels with the book mentioned above). Next, there is a French TV appearance by Claude Sautet and Andre Dussollier where the importance of music is discussed (short fragment). Finally, there is lovely booklet with an essay by Michel Boujut titled "The Simple Stories of Claude Sautet".
Outstanding presentation for an outstanding film!! Presented with great care and a most impressive print Heart in Winter is the best DVD to ever come out of Koch Lorber's vaults! Plain and simple!! Such remarkable effort deserves the highest mark DVDTALK allows: DVDTALK Collectors Series!!