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A budget-production intended for French television Boiteux: Le Baby Blues a.k.a Baby Blues (1999) follows the story of Lieutenant Deveure (Vincent Winterhalter) who battles a number of personal demons while attempting to figure out the presence of a baby corpse at the property of a young French couple. After a series of visits to the couple's house Deveure befriends the pregnant Blandine (Audrey Tautou, Amelie) and eventually finds himself in the middle of a large conspiracy involving prominent figures from the city's business and political elite.
Predictable, uneven, and at times disturbingly amateurish-looking Baby Blues' only exciting asset is the presence of French superstar Audrey Tautou who takes a large portion of the cover for this upcoming R1 release. Unfortunately, Tautou not only is far and away from being in top-form here but her role is practically a lonely cameo of little, if any, importance to the story.
Lieutenant Deveure, the main protagonist the viewer is forced to side with, is equally unimpressive. Through a series of flashbacks it becomes evident that he has been emotionally and physically hurt in a police standoff gone wrong and the memory of it often affects his performance. Not surprisingly Deveure's personal life is also irreversibly damaged even though he sporadically sees a mid-age bartender with a crush on him.
The actual enigma surrounding the baby corpse however is by far the weakest link in this French thriller. The manner in which the missing pieces are put together to justify Deveure's involvement with Blandine, and eventually his solving of the case, is frankly average at best. As a result it is often hard to tell why and for what reason certain events take place!
Lastly, Baby Blues obviously belongs to what we often refer to as "made-for-cable" product. The abrupt yet open finale (perhaps a sequel was considered at some point) leads me to believe that the production team was looking for a potent element of continuity but the film's lack of substantial success killed off any such enthusiasm quickly!
How Does the DVD Look?
There appears to be quite a bit of confusion as to what the original aspect ratio for this film is – certainly amongst those who produced it. The back cover for this R1 DVD indicates an aspect ratio of 4:3 (I assume this was meant to indicate 1.33:1) yet the actual presentation is in 1.78:1. Anamorphic enhancement has been provided but this is where all the positives regarding this release end! First of all I have every reason to believe that the print was sourced from a PAL-master as there is a heavy dose of "ghosting" here accompanied by a disturbingly soft image quality. Second, the color-scheme is shaky to say the least – an annoyingly overcompressed look is further exacerbated by faded and dull colors. Contrast is equally disappointing only further solidifying my conviction that this R1 DVD was improperly sourced, most likely from a low-quality PAL-print.
How Does the DVD Sound?
A basic DD 2.0 French track is provided here which matches the quality of the video presentation described above – slightly below average. I did not detect any disturbing imperfections but the sound isn't crisp and at times feels suppressed. The English subtitles are optional and I must note occasionally missing on much of the French dialog.
There is absolutely nothing to be found on this DVD.
I have a great deal of respect for what SYNKRONIZED USA are attempting to achieve which is bring to US shores little seen, of distinction, European cinema. Obviously the company is young and still trying to find its way amongst a sea of competitors. Unfortunately, so far I have been anything but impressed with the technical treatment of their films.