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Toni Criterion Blu-ray Review

Toni

“Toni” starts slow, but ends strong.

1935’s “Toni” tells the story of the titular immigrant who travels to the South of France in search of work. While there, he finds himself getting entangled in a love triangle. While there, he stays with a woman named Marie and eventually becomes her lover, but he also has eyes for another woman (Josefa) much to the dismay of Marie. Unfortunately for Toni, Josefa ends up marrying the abhorrent Albert. Meanwhile, Toni’s relationship with Marie begins to suffer as he continues to long for Josefa.

Directed by Jean Renoir, “Toni” struggles a bit out of the gate with a love triangle storyline. Well, there’s technically five people involved in all of these relationships, but I don’t want to spoil all of that. Much of the film is simply devoted to Toni’s day job, his complicated relationships, and a whole lot of bickering. Seriously, some of these characters just go on and on.

Around the last 20 minutes give or take, the film takes a turn for the better as it morphs into a tragedy while also delving more into the themes and ideas about the class system, the human spirit, love, sacrifice, the hopes and dreams of immigrants, wounds (physical and mental) and life not panning out how one would expect. Again, I don’t want to give too much away for those that haven’t seen it yet, but the story really comes together in the end. It’s not that the events that transpire are surprising, mind you, it’s just more of how the events correlate with the larger ideas in play by Renoir (who co-wrote the script with Carl Einstein based off of a Andre Levert story).

Although the constant chatter and whining can be grating, the performances by the main players Charlies Blavette (Toni), Celia Montalvan (josefa), Jenny Helia (Marie) and Max Dalban (Albert) are strong. There is undeniable cast chemistry and the interplay between the characters is entirely convincing.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.37:1 1080p. How does it look? The B&W film has been given a nice clean 4K digital restoration. Fans will undoubtedly be pleased by the results.

Audio Track: French Uncompressed Mono. How does it sound? The Mono track is adequate, but noticeably snowy at times.

Extras:
* A booklet featuring an article by Jean Renoir and an essay by Ginette Vincendeau
* An intro by Jean Renoir
* A 25 minute video essay by Renoir expert Christopher Faulkner who talks about the real story “Toni” is based on, Renoir’s film career, the place of “Toni” in cinema history and more.
* “Cineastes De Notre Temps”-A 98 minute episode of the French TV series about Jean Renoir (directed by Jacques Rivette). Various interviews (including Renoir) are included.
* A 2006 commentary by critics Kent Jones and Phillip Lopate. A refreshingly conversational track that feels like two friends talking.

August 11, 2020 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , ,

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