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L'Amour Braque -aka- Mad Love

Kino // Unrated // July 27, 2021
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ian Jane | posted June 23, 2021 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

Andrzej Zulawski's L'Amour Braque is influenced by, if not entirely based on, Dostoyevsky's novel The Idiot. It tells the story of a damned love triangle and its three participants, those being an ‘idiot' named Leo (Francis Huster), Mary (Sophie Marceau), and Mickey (Tcheky Karyo), a gangster. It begins with a hyper stylish scene involving a bank heist and works its way through the basics of The Idiot until it reaches its inevitable and violent finish. It uses the conventions of the love triangle film, mixes in some European gangster film elements (which are decidedly different than your average American gangster film) and wraps it all up with sex and style all at a very quick pace.


Zulawski's adaptation is very much a comic book come to life. It's as colorful and flamboyant as any pulp tale you could care to name and its rich with visual flair and suggestive imagery. It's an energetic looking film, one that movies quickly with little regard for what falls in its wake, and the finale stands as a testament to Zulawski's skills not only as a director but as a master at staging a singular scene. The ending carries with it such weight and impact that it almost overshadows much of what came before it.


Of course, as gorgeous and colorful as the film is, it wouldn't be nearly as effective without the acting that the three leads bring to the project. Huster is sympathetic in his ‘idiot' role and makes an interesting counterpoint to Karyo's more streetwise mobster. In the middle is Marceau's Mary, who has more in common with the ‘virgin whore' than simply her name. She's as sexy and seductive as you'd expect her to be and she has such an enthralling and enticing screen presence that you can't help but fall for her a bit. She's perfectly cast here and is never less than completely captivating. Here again we see the director's penchant for careful framing in regards to the sexuality that permeates from much of his work, and there are scenes where Marceau definitely seems to be fetishized, and to very good effect.


While the ending is, in some ways, predictable it is in more ways inevitable. It all builds to a conclusion that we can see coming but which we know the characters have no way of avoiding. Call it fate, destiny or whatever other adjective you choose to use, it's really the only way that it can go, particularly when you take the source material into account. While at times it may go a bit over the top and while the film definitely runs fast and free with little regard to traditional linear storytelling or convention, it all comes together quite well when it's all said and done. It might not have the emotional weight of some of the director's better known pictures but it's a beautifully shot, well-acted and very polished if somewhat experimental picture that's well worth seeking out.


The Blu-ray

Video:

Kino Lorber brings L'Amour Braque to Blu-ray using AVC encoded 1080p high definition in an excellent 1.66.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The feature takes up 32.8GBs of space on a dual layered 50GB disc and it looks very nice indeed, taken from a new 4k restoration of the original 35mm negative. There's plenty of detail evident throughout the image and there are no problems with compression artifacts or edge enhancement to report. Print damage is never an issue and color reproduction looks nice and lifelike, as do skin tones. Black levels stay strong throughout and overall this is a well authored disc of some very nice source material.


Sound:

The French language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono mix comes with optional subtitles in English only. As with the video transfer, there's really nothing to complain about here. The mix is well balanced, there are no problems with hiss or distortion and the subtitles are clean, clear, easy to read and free of any obvious typographical errors. Optional tracks are provided in English and German as well, but for whatever reason the film just seems to play better in French. A note about the subtitles on the disc that some may want to be aware of.


Extras:

Extras kick off with a commentary that joins Daniel Bird and Andrej Zulawski together for an interesting talk about the film. They discuss its themes, the effectiveness of the cast, the production values and some changes that it went through as it was being made. They address the critical response and financials of the picture as well and elaborate on where it fits in alongside many of Zulawski's other pictures. It's quite an informative and well-paced talk and Zulawksi pulls no punches here, speaking surprisingly frankly about his thoughts on some of Hollywood's more beloved directors and more. Good stuff!


Aside from the commentary, there are also some interesting interviews included here, the first of which is with Sophie Marceau, who is still very fetching more than two decades after this picture was made. Here she talks about her character, what she did to prepare for the role, working with Andrej Zulawski on the picture and how he really helped her with the physical side of the role. The second interview puts cinematographer Jean Francois Robin in front of the camera to give us an insightful talk about the visuals that he managed to capture for Zulawski this time around. He speaks quite fondly of Zulawski and definitely gives us the impression that he is a director who definitely knows what he wants to see up on camera before telling us how he went about communicating that to him before they started shooting.


There is also a sixteen-minute collection of archival clips that contains some interesting behind the scenes footage as well as vintage interview clips with Zulawski, Francis Huster, and Sophie Marceau. These aren't quite as in-depth as the more modern interviews but are still quite interesting and the behind the scenes footage is quite telling in and of itself. Rounding out the extras on the disc is the film's theatrical trailer and some bonus trailers for Cosmos and Diva. Menus and chapter selection are also provided.


Final Thoughts:

L'Amour Braque is an outstandingly passionate, if sometimes grim, piece of work. While it's maybe not quite on the same level of some of Zulawski's other films, it's pretty damn close and an entirely worthwhile endeavor. Kino's Blu-ray release includes a great selection of extra features and presents the film in a beautiful presentation. Highly recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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C O N T E N T

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A D V I C E
Highly Recommended

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