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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Portrait of a Downfall Child aka Portrait d'une enfant déchue [Blu-ray]

 

(Jerry Schatzberg, 1970)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Universal Pictures

Video: Carlotta Films

 

Disc:

Region: 'B'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:43:43.258

Disc Size: 44,149,345,824 bytes

Feature Size: 29,391,900,672 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.02 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Black Blu-ray case inside cardboard slipcase

Release date: February 22nd, 2012

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 944 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 944 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)

 

Subtitles:

French, none

 

Extras:

Le Revele (12:40)

Illusion et Reality (51:07)

• Bande-Announce 2011 (1:17)

• Credits

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Lou Andreas Sand, a once famous model, recalls her past as she tries to make success in the modeling world of New York, her stressful workdays, her affair with Mark, an advertising executive, her friendship with photographer Aaron, and her downward spiral into ruin.

 

 

The Film:

The debut of writer and director Jerry Schatzberg, this cinema verite drama won accolades for the Golden Globe-nominated... performance of lead actress Faye Dunaway. Dunaway stars as Lou Andreas Sand, a former fashion model who has retreated to her seaside cottage and is being interviewed by Aaron Reinhardt (Barry Primus), a photographer and filmmaker who helped make her famous and with whom she was once involved. Aaron wants to make a movie about Lou's rise from rags to riches but as Lou recalls it, her seemingly glamorous existence was anything but a Horatio Alger tale. In an addled fog, Lou struggles to recite a shocking litany of casual sex and rape, drug and alcohol abuse, and the anger of her lesbian mentor Paula Galba (Viveca Lindfors) when her romance with wealthy boyfriend Mark (Roy Scheider) nearly led to marriage. Her career deteriorating, Lou even attempted suicide. A former fashion photographer himself, Schatzberg was an apt choice for director of this melodramatic portrait of the industry's ugly underbelly.

[...]

Watching movies about drug addiction can teach you a thing or two about it, but it is still best to consult with a professional, especially when you are afflicted with the condition yourself.

***

Very much a film of its period (1970), when Alain Resnais' subjective and lyrical editing patterns were at the height of their influence, this is the first feature of former fashion photographer Jerry Schatzberg. It deals with the memories and imaginings of a fashion model (Faye Dunaway) who's attempting to recover from a nervous breakdown in a beach cottage, and shares the fragmented, mosaic form as well as some of the melancholia of the 1968 Petulia—though not much of its saving humor. I didn't warm to this film, but given the quality of some of Schatzberg's subsequent work, especially Scarecrow and Reunion, and the claims made for this picture by Michel Ciment, Schatzberg's biggest champion, it may deserve a second look. The script is by Five Easy Pieces's Adrien Joyce, writing under the pseudonym Carol Eastman; the secondary cast includes Barry Primus, Viveca Lindfors, Barry Morse, and Roy Scheider.

Excerpt from Jonathan Rosenbaum's capsule at The Chicago Reader located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Carlotta gives us a strong dual-layered image on Blu-ray.  The quality shows a smattering of grain and colors are tight and impressive. It probably looked quite similar to this theatrically over 40+ years ago. There is a bit of noise but never overwhelming. In one sense the film itself is quite beautiful - wonderfully composed shots and Faye Dunaway drawing your gaze like a magnet. This Blu-ray does a very strong job with no manipulation that I could determine and the print source is in excellent condition or recently restored. The transfer produces a sweet and sexy video presentation.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

No boost going on here - its a mono track pushing through the center channel. I like the authenticity but fans who indulge for their Surround systems will be left empty handed. This is a passive film anyway without much aggression. So, there is no depth but dialogue is crisp and consistent. The score is by Michael Small sounds fitting for the film and supportive in uncompressed. There are French subtitles (removable via my Momitsu) and the disc has been identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

 

Extras :

There are two French-friendly supplements: Revealed Film (13-minutes) has film enthusiast pioneer, clearer of great authors, Pierre Rissient relating his discovery of Portrait of a Downfall Child in 1970 at the Festival of film of San Francisco. Illusion and Reality runs over 50-minutes. In this exclusive interview directed by Michel Cement, Jerry Schatzberg discusses Portrait of a Downfall Child as a personal favorite. There is also a short trailer.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Interesting, very 70's - almost experimental - effort. I sensed a comfortable, haunting, depth with Schatzberg's layering of the narrative and Dunaway is radiant - hypnotic in her role. I'm looking forward to seeing this again once I have digested the first viewing. It's an odd, but appealing film. No better way to see this than the Carlotta Blu-ray. I doubt I would have ever seen Puzzle of a Downfall Child without the digital medium. The curious edge may draw in many to indulging in this title - especially those keen on the art-leaning 70's style. 

Gary Tooze

February 26th, 2012


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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