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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "L'Autre Monde" )

 

directed by Gilles Marchand
France/Belgium 2010

 

While swimming at the seaside with their friends, Gaspard (Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet, LA BELLE PERSONE) and Marion (Pauline Etienne, PRIVATE LESSONS) find a lost mobile phone when it rings in their changing room. Marion answers the phone and is addressed as "Sam" by the caller named "Dragon" who leaves an elliptical message mentioning "Black Hole". Gaspard takes the phone home with him and finds a text on it from Dragon about a pre-arranged meeting at the local chapel on Saturday. He also discovers the meaning of "Black Hole". Gaspard and Marion go to the chapel and see the man they assume to be Dragon (Swann Arlaud, RESTLESS) meet up with a mysterious blond presumed to be Sam (Louise Bourgoin, THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF ADELE BLANC-SEC). They follow the two on Gaspard's scooter and see Dragon buying an odd assortment of supplies at a hardware store (adhesive tape, a length of pipe, etc). They follow the pair into the hills and lose them. While making out on the rocks, Gaspard and Marion hear a howling dog and find Dragon's car in a quarry. Inside are the couple, who are trying to commit suicide by feeding the engine exhaust into the car. They pull the two out of the car. Dragon is already dead but Sam is still breathing. Marion swears that she saw someone watching them from above the quarry. Gaspard sees a DV camera in the car and pockets it before contacting the police. Gaspard takes the DV camera home with him and views the suicide attempt in which Sam tells Dragon that they are going to the "Black Sea". Gaspard investigates "Black Hole" the online virtual world in search of Sam. He accompanies his friends Ludos (Ali Marhyar) and Yann (Pierre Niney, THE ARMY OF CRIME) to an apartment building so Ludos' can pick up some drugs from Samos (Francesco Merenda, DIAMOND 13) and discovers the dog from the quarry. He follows it and runs into "Sam" or Audrey as she is known in real life. Audrey takes him to her bedroom and asks him if he knows of "Black Hole" but their meeting is interrupted by her protective and threatening brother Vincent (Melvil Poupaud, HIDEAWAY). Marion's father (Patrick Deschamps, THE TANGO SINGER), already perturbed by Marion's and Gaspard's run-in with the police, balks at the notion of Marion sleeping over at Gaspard's while his parents are in Spain and suggests they spend some time apart. Gaspard creates a "Black Hole" identity named Gordon (modeled by actor Laurent Lacotte [AROUND A SMALL MOUNTAIN], but voiced by Leprince-Ringuet) and searches for Sam. A character with the same "Heaven" tattoo Audrey wears in real life tells him that it is a tattoo worn by slaves of the patrons of the club "Heaven." Gordon forcefully gains admittance to the club and secretly meets Sam (modeled and voiced Moon Dailly, OSS 117 - LOST IN RIO) while pretending to be a friend of Dragon. They arrange another secret meeting at the Black Sea, Black Hole's purgatory where members are temporarily sent when they die, by committing suicide in the game. Sam tells Gordon that she and Dragon should have died, but that some kids rescued her. Sam and Gordon forge a bond and Gordon tells Sam to seduce the guy who rescued her in the real world and Sam tells Gordon to hurt his girlfriend. Marion lies to her father and spends the night with Gaspard, but Audrey shows up on Gaspard's doorstep the next morning. While on a trip with Marion and her little brother (Pierre Vittet) at the seaside, Gaspard argues with Marion and then meets up with Audrey, who is already hanging around with his friends Ludo and Yann. During a night of drugs and skinny-dipping, Audrey sleeps with Ludo instead of him and they both disappear the next day. Meanwhile, Vincent - who has learned that Gaspard was one of the kids that rescued Audrey - is after the DV camera that was in the car, and Gaspard begins to suspect that Audrey is a pawn in something more sinister than her own death-wish. BLACK HEAVEN (or L'AUTRE MONDE) is the second feature directorial effort of Gilles Marchand. As with Marchand's first outing WHO KILLED BAMBI?, BLACK HEAVEN has an interesting concept but it short-changes character development in favor of art-house-esque ambiguity and the climax threatens to spill over into Hollywood thriller territory. The mind games between Gordon/Gaspard and Sam/Audrey - and the interjections of her "brother" Vincent - are scrunched into a couple minutes and a major plot revelation is rendered in a speech by a character who has been given almost no more than one-dimensional development. The deterioration of Gaspard's relationships with his girlfriend and two best friends is only sketchily rendered (his argument with Marion only barely hints at some simmering resentments, but does not reveal how Audrey perhaps embodies an alternative - beyond a possible easy lay). Marchand's scripting efforts for Cedric Kahn (RED LIGHTS) and Dominik Moll (WITH A FRIEND LIKE HARRY and LEMMING) - who co-scripted - were more satisfying, but BLACK HEAVEN was not quite worth the wait (their prior collaboration having been LEMMING five years before with little in between for either of them; although Moll has followed up BLACK HEAVEN by scripting and directing LA MOINE, an adaptation of Matthew Lewis' gothic novel "The Monk" starring Vincent Cassel, THE PAGE TURNER's Deboarah Francois, and WITH A FRIEND LIKE HARRY's Sergi Lopez). The "techno-thriller" aspect of the film does not feel so dated for those of us whose only experience of virtual worlds is watching Jim stalk Dwight through "Second Life" on THE OFFICE and have already been warned off the danger of chatrooms (although Sam's siren-like presence could be likened to Jennifer Beal's video billboard appearances on Claude Chabrol's DR. M/CLUB EXTINCTION, which predates the proliferation of the internet as a social medium). M38's cool synthesizer theme lurks throughout the real life portions of the film but makes itself prominent during the Black Hole sequences (Emmanuel D'Orlando's contribution to the score for the real life sequences is less prominent) and the naturalistic cinematography of Celine Bozon (EXILES) also contrasts nicely with the virtual world visual effects, but the shallow scripting conveys a cautionary tale about the internet with little contrasting human warmth; although I don't think this was necessarily the intent of Marchand and Moll, it may actually be relevant (possibly more so in regards to certain social media sites than virtual worlds).

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 14 July 2010 (France)

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DVD Comparison:

Arrow Films - Region 2 - PAL vs. IFC Films/MPI Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for all the Screen Caps!

(Arrow Films - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT vs. IFC Films/MPI Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Arrow Films

Region 2 - PAL

IFC Films/MPI Home Video
Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:40:42 (4% PAL speedup) 1:45:00
Video

2.36:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.98 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

2.32:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 4.58 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

Arrow Films

 

Bitrate:

 

IFC Films/MPI Home Video

 

Audio French Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo

French Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles English (burnt-in) English, Spanish, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Arrow Films

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.36:1

Edition Details:
• none

DVD Release Date: 5 September 2011
Amaray

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: IFC Films/MPI Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.32:1

Edition Details:
• U.S. Trailer (16:9; 1:14)
• Start-up trailers for SHADOW, BENEATH THE DARKNESS, RED WHITE & BLUE, and THE HOUSEMAID

 

DVD Release Date: 12 April 2011
Amaray

Chapters 18

 

Comments

Both versions have drawbacks. Arrow's disc is dual-layer and the feature is encoded at a high bitrate, but the subtitles are burnt-in and the French audio is Dolby Digital stereo only. On the other hand, IFC's DVD features removable subtitles and 5.1 audio, but it is single-layer and the image is interlaced - see cap 5 - (like some other foreign IFC offerings, the disc runs at the correct 24fps running time, but it is encoded at 29.97 fps). The color and contrast look identical, but the Arrow looks better in motion (you sacrifice the 5.1 track, although the 2.0 downmix is more than serviceable).

Neither version offers much in the way of extras. The film is available on Blu-Ray and DVD in France and Germany, but without English subtitles. The film is also available on DVD in Canada from Mongrel Media, although specs are not available.

 - Eric Cotenas

 


DVD Menus
(
Arrow Films - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT vs. IFC Films/MPI Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT)
 

 

 


 

Screen Captures

(Arrow Films - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. IFC Films/MPI Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)
Subtitle sample

 


(Arrow Films - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. IFC Films/MPI Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Arrow Films - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. IFC Films/MPI Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Arrow Films - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. IFC Films/MPI Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Arrow Films - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. IFC Films/MPI Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Arrow Films - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. IFC Films/MPI Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Arrow Films - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. IFC Films/MPI Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Arrow

Sound:

IFC

Extras: Draw
Menu: Arrow

 
DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Arrow Films

Region 2 - PAL

IFC Films/MPI Home Video
Region 1 - NTSC

 

 




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