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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Merci Docteur Rey!
Merci Docteur Rey!
Image // R // August 9, 2005
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Preston Jones | posted August 30, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie

Attempts at highbrow farce and a bland murder mystery are fused together in the unwieldy mess that is writer/director (and Merchant/Ivory protege) Andrew Litvack's debut film, Merci Docteur Rey! Despite a frothy, fun performance from Dianne Wiest, Merci Docteur Rey! is 90 minutes of poorly executed comedy that is far from hitting its intended marks.

The film centers on the vaguely queasy relationship involving American opera star Elisabeth Beaumont (Wiest) and her 23-year-old son, Thomas (Stanislaus Merhar), whom Elisabeth smothers, oblivious to the fact that he's gay. Mother and son are in Paris where Elisabeth is set to appear in a production of "Turandot," and while Elisabeth rehearses, Thomas spends his idle time cruising for anonymous sex, which turns deadly when an acquaintance (Simon Callow) is murdered while Thomas hides in his bedroom closet.

Suffering from shock, Thomas visits a shrink who, in actuality, is a patient (Jane Birkin) who believes she's Vanessa Redgrave. The coincidences and contrivances pile up from there, building to an overheated kerfluffle of a climax that resolves the plot but at that point, not many may care – or even still be watching.

The cast acquits themselves well, but Litvack's silly, derivative script tends to undermine any goodwell the actors accrue – Wiest's role here is a Gallic variation on her work in Woody Allen's far superior Bullets Over Broadway while Vanessa Redgrave is wasted in a "Look at me!" cameo. I suppose Litvack's intentions are admirable, but the end result is fairly ho-hum.

The DVD

The Video:

Merci Docteur Rey! is offered up in a serviceable 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that doesn't suffer from any grain or edge enhancement but does have a faintly soft, worn look to it – it could be a PAL-to-NTSC transfer, but I'm not certain.

The Audio:

Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 stereo, Merci Docteur Rey! is not a film that will tax home theaters. Reliant upon dialogue, an eclectic soundtrack and glorious opera excerpts, Litvak's film sounds clear and free of distortion throughout. English subtitles (which appear, unbidden, during the more French-centric dialogue sequences) and Spanish subtitles are also available.

The Extras:

The only supplements included are trailers for Merci Docteur Rey!, Callas Forever, The Hillz, Dunsmore and Lana's Rain.

Final Thoughts:

Merci Docteur Rey! is a film in search of itself, which is a shame, since neophyte writer/director Andrew Litvack did assemble a pretty impressive cast. Unfortunately, this farce/murder mystery fusion doesn't ever really get off the ground, stranding some admirable performances and creating a sense of indifference. Skip it.

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