French duo Yolande Moreau and Gilles Porte introduce a low-budget romantic story about a slightly-overweight traveling actress called When The Sea Rises (2004). Reminiscent of Fellini's La Strada (1954) the film follows Irene (Yolande Moreau) through Northern France as she performs a tragic-comedic play called "A Dirty Business of Sex and Crime".
When the audience first sees Irene she wears a strange shaman-like mask complimented by an unusual dress covered with "bloody" stains. Her stage-character is edgy, with a sense of humor, always willing to improvise.
Along the way Irene encounters Dries (Wim Willaert), an artist whose job requires him to repair giant carnival dummies. After a short rendezvous with Irene Dries is quickly fired and told to pack up his belongings. Jobless he offers to assist Irene with her work and the two become inseparable.
Winner of two Cesar Awards, one for Best First Film and one Best Actress (Yolande Moreau), When The Sea Rises is a quiet production about two people who discover love under some unusual circumstances. How unusual? On the stage Irene is grotesque, hilarious, yet with plenty of razor-sharp remarks for her audience. Off the stage the actress is weary and fed up with what she does for living.
Dries is happy, or so he appears, with his low-paying job. He lives in a large hangar full of abandoned crates, broken dummies, and scattered beer bottles. His life follows a routine which typically ends up with him being drunk. So, can two people with such different lives fall in love? According to Giles Porte and Yolande Moreau the answer is most certainly yes!!
This being said even though When The Sea Rises may seem like an all too familiar slice-of-life story about love (it is certainly advertised as such) I assure you it is anything but. It is a more of a film about two human beings struggling to make sense of "reality" where the only certainty is that at the end of the day the two will be alone.
Finally from the little I have been able to gather it appears that When The Sea Rises was inspired by Yolande Moreau's own career as a traveling performer during the early 80's. Judging by her relaxed presence on the stage I tend to believe that the French actress had something special in mind when she co-directed this film. I sense that there is a hidden message here meant for someone special!
How Does the DVD Look?
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 an enhanced for widescreen TV's When The Sea Rises has most certainly been replicated from the French non-subbed DVD. Considering the fact that this is a New Yorker release as well you already know what to expect: an unconverted PAL-port. This being said the actual presentation is quite good: colors are lush, contrast satisfying, and print damage practically non-existent. There is some minor edge enhancement which is noticeable (the hangar scene in particular) but nevertheless I am rather pleased with the way this DVD looks. Of course the fact that it is PAL sourced affects detail a great deal and those with progressive set-ups will surely notice the effects of the improper conversion. On a standard tube however I do not think you will be utterly disappointed with the picture quality.
How Does the DVD Sound?
Presented with a basic 2.0 French track and optional English subtitles the audio is actually very good. As this is mostly a dialog-driven feature the DD track certainly provides the film with the needed crispness and clarity. I could not detect any disturbing audio drop-outs or hissing(s). The dialog was most certainly easy to follow without a problem!
Aside from the theatrical trailer for the main feature and a few supporting trailers for other New Yorker release there is nothing else to be found here.
I quite enjoyed this film, especially Yolande Moreau's character!! This being said, even though When The Sea Rises is being promoted as a mature love story with me the film resonated rather differently. I saw it as a story about two lonely souls attempting to console each other. As to the quality of this R1-produced DVD...While I applaud New Yorker for bringing When The Sea Rises to the US I am anything but happy with the fact that nothing ever changes inside their quality department (if such exists that is).