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A Day In The Country Blu-ray Review

A Day In The Country Blu-ray

The Criterion release of “A Day In The Country” will surely have Jean Renoir fans jumping for joy.

1936’s “A Day In The Country” is something of an oddity in the world of cinema in that it is partially an unfinished film. You see, in the middle of filming it, director Jean Renoir essentially abandoned it to work on another project. Eventually, the film was completed with the existing footage, but it runs a mere 41 minutes. Despite all of this, the film still feels complete and is considered to be a masterpiece. While I wouldn’t go as far as to throw that word out (I rarely do), it’s still an accomplished character piece to say the least.

“A Day In The Country” (AKA “Partie de champagne”) is a deceptively simple story about Mr. Dufour (a store owner), his wife (Mrs. Dufour), mother-in-law, daughter (Henriette), and shop keeper/future son-in-law (Anatole) having a lovely day in the country (as the title suggests). On their outing, the Parisian family picnics, fishes, and even takes a couple of boat rides. In the midst of all of this, two horny men (Henri and Poulain) are dining at the nearby restaurant and set their sights on Henriette and Mrs. Dufour. The two try to devise a way to lure them into some alone time. What happens after that, I will not say because the viewer should have some surprises here.

Much like an Antonioni film, there’s not much happening on the surface of “A Day In The Country” as Renoir wants viewers to interpret what is going on for themselves. As a result, the famed director places a great emphasis on metaphors and character contrasts as he digs into the themes and ideas of nature, lust, romance, regret, longing, desire, and innocence. Granted it may not be the most exciting motion picture ever made, but cinephiles and film buffs will surely have a field day analyzing this piece of cinematic history.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.37:1 1080p. How does it look? Aside from some overly grainy shots, this 2K restoration is flat-out gorgeous. The B&W exteriors are simply divine in hi-def.

Audio Track: French Uncompressed Mono. How does it sound? While the music is lively, the dialogue is surprisingly a bit flat.

Extras:
* An 89 minute version of “A Day In The Country” with outtakes.
* A booklet featuring an essay by author Gilberto Perez.
* Screen tests.
* An archival intro by Jean Renoir.
* “Pierre Braunberger On Jean Renoir”- Producer Pierre Braunberger chats about Renoir’s love of cinema, “A Day In The Country,” his filmography, and more for 5 ½ minutes.
* “The Road To A Day In The Country”- A newly shot 24 ½ minute interview with Jean Renoir expert Christopher Faulkner in which he talks about Renoir’s life, production stories about “A Day In The Country,” other Renoir films, etc.
* “Renoir At Work”- A video essay by Christopher Faulkner about the outtakes.

Overall Thoughts: “A Day In The Country” is an artistic and observational character study about a certain time and place. If that sounds appealing to you, check it out.

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February 14, 2015 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , ,

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