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Two of Us, The
The Two of Us is an award winning foreign language drama which focuses on the departure of a young Jewish child who goes off to live with an older couple in another city in order to survive the atrocities of the time. Separated from both of his parents, the boy must come to live a new life. Executive produced by Paul Cadeac (Le Rapace), this is a dramatic examination of false barriers in life.
The young boy, Claude (Alain Cohen), starts to experience his life growing up under the care of the elder Pepe (Michel Simon), who becomes his father figure. The film focuses on the boy's growing friendship with Pepe. The two become almost inseparable and spend much time together in laughter and friendship.
Yet there is also an undercurrent of darkness to this story. What Pepe doesn't realize is that the boy he is looking after is Jewish. Pepe is a strong anti-semite and would (if his views are to be believed) hate the boy solely based on his Jewish background. The film is a melancholy look at discrimination and the thin line between people: for the similarities between people of different cultures and backgrounds is actually less separate than some would like to believe.
The film has an excellent music score composed by the brilliant Georges Delerue (Day for Night, Jules and Jim). Delerue is one of the best film composers of foreign cinema and this score is no exception to that rule. The music is the most affecting and essential element of this film in my estimation. The score is haunting, beautiful, and memorable.
The cinematography by Jean Penzer (Buffet Froid) is impressively lit with strong black and white photography highlighting the tone. The Two of Us has a solemn aspect behind its photography. There are many sequences with noteworthy cinematography.
The screenplay by Claude Berri and Gerard Brach (The Name of the Rose, Frantic) is one which tells it's sad tale while emphasizing humanity as a core value. Directed by Claude Berri ( who made the brilliant Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring - both of which I also reviewed), tells the tale with as much spirit for the situation these characters are in as one can.
The film is aiming to make a statement about the flaws in anti-semite discrimination and it does so well. If the film has any major flaw, it's that it also wants the audience to connect so strongly with Pepe. It's not easy to see the good in a character who supposedly values hate. Nonetheless, the message this film brings is a positive one that bears remembering: it's always important to look beneath the surface and not just at what lies in front of you.
The release of The Two of Us includes a 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded high definition presentation in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.66:1 widescreen. This is a high quality scan of the film with stunning clarity. It is a 4K remastered presentation. The detail, depth, and clarity present is superb. Without any doubt, this film has received a excellent restoration. Fans of the film will not feel disappointed.
The audio is presented in 2.0 stereo uncompressed PCM. The 24 bit high-definition lossless audio is surprisingly clean and crisp for the age of the film. Dialogue reproduction is also excellent. This stereo track might be relatively quiet but it's clarity is superb.
The audio score by the maestro Georges Delerue, Truffaut's frequent collaborator, is a highlight of the presentation and is well presented on this release.
English SDH subtitles are provided for the deaf and hard of hearing.
Includes a printed booklet with photographs and cast/crew production credits.
On disc supplements include:
Audio Commentary with film critic Wade Major
Michel Simon Discusses The Two Of Us (1 min. 25 sec., SD) is a short interview with the actor about the process of being involved in the film.
Michel Simon and Jean Renoir In Conversation (6 min., SD) is a conversation about the film between its star and director.
2017 re-release trailer
The Two of Us is a generally well-crafted film with a strong message behind it. The film is a strong directorial effort by Claude Berri. Though the film isn't quite as strong as Berri's later films, it's still a film that aims for something serious and that which will make an impression. The 4K restoration is also superb and is worth a look for fans of Berri.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.