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Fox Lorber presents
The Girl (2000)

"Her presence and her absense are everything to me."
- The Artist/Narrator (Agathe De La Boulaye)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: September 05, 2002

Stars: Claire Keim, Agathe De La Boulaye, Cyril Lecomte, Sandra Nkake
Other Stars: Ronald Guttman, Cyrille Hertel, Pascal Cervo, Franck Prévost, Hélène Juren
Director: Sande Zeig

Manufacturer: IFPI
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity, mature situations, language, violence)
Run Time: 01h:23m:51s
Release Date: February 19, 2002
UPC: 720917531823
Genre: film noir

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- C+BB+ C+

DVD Review

"Now do you understand? I don't want you to be mixed up in this. I don't want you to know more. Now I'm scared." - The Girl (Claire Keim)

For her first feature, Sande Zeig, a film distributor, co-wrote a script with Monique Wittig, who had written the novel of The Girl. This dark, erotically charged, fish out of water story, tells the story of an aspiring starlet whose affair with another woman places their lives in jeopardy at the hands of an abusive and highly possessive boyfriend. Both women find themselves leaving the confines of their natural element in search of true happiness, despite the potential for disastrous consequences.

The Girl (Claire Keim) works as a lounge singer in a Paris night club, her good looks and stage presence making up for her mediocre abilities. She hooks up with a butchy lesbian (Agathe De La Boulaye), which she states is a one night affair, but is drawn into a relationship with this woman she dubs "The Painter." The Girl is in no way a monogamist; her philosophy is based on who she can sleep with to forward her career, and her power over men is her strong suit. She takes on her cool and laid back lover as a diversion from her usual relationships with men, frequently brushing her off, only to take her back again in a kind of game. The Painter has another lover of her own in Bu Savè (Sandra Nkake);, who is an accomplished pianist and composer, but as she becomes more attached to The Girl, their relationship drifts apart. When the nightclub owner (Cyril Lecomte) becomes jealous of the women's relationship, he sends his goon out to get rid of The Painter. When the two persist in their meetings, the heat turns up, until the situation can only come to a violent confrontation.

The Girl is seeped in an atmosphere of film noir, set to voice over and a slow, jazzy score by Merchant/Ivory staple, Richard Robbins. This is also translated by the look, which utilizes sparse compositions, and often stark contrast, with much use of black and white costuming. While the film is fairly big on style, it is not that deep in substance, floating between the lover's trysts and the contemplative aftermath of the narrator; I suspect many may find the pacing too languid. The direction and acting are fairly good, but I found little to really grab my attention. The interaction between the leads was missing something: Claire Keim's unpredictable straight character is merely a dismissive and spoiled woman, and Agathe De La Boulaye plays her lover with a detached and passive presence, despite their mutual obsession with each other. The many love scenes were handled in an aptly stylistic and not overly exploitive manner, and it was interesting to see The Painter involved in fisticuffs with her male attackers. The men in the story have no speaking parts, which adds some interest to their otherwise controlling and aggressive presentation. The Girl certainly finds a unique approach to noir storytelling, but will probably not find much appeal outside its target audience.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The Girl is presented in an anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer. Colors are fairly good, though deep blues tend to problematic. Blacks are solid, but there is little in the way of shadow detail due to the moderately high contrast, and overall dark look. Film grain is evident throughout, and often appears unnatural in its rendering. There is some visible edge enhancement haloing in places, but the overall look is on the soft side.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The Girl has both a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix and a stereo track available. Both are well defined, featuring good separation and full frequency mix. Surround use is minimal, and limited to ambience or foley. Dialogue, what little there is, is clear for the most part, though sometimes a bit hard to discern. The score comes across well, sounding natural and full.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Sandy Zeig
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The principle extra is a feature-length commentary by director Sandy Zeig, in which she discusses many aspects of the film, from how the script came into being to her choice of casting and locations. Zeig keeps the conversation flowing, and provides an interesting collection of ideas and background from the production.

The theatrical trailer, filmographies for Claire Keim and Agathe De La Boulaye, plus biographies for Zeig, author Monique Wittig, producer Dolly Hall and co-producer Claude Martin are included, along with standard Wellspring web links and the movie's official website.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

The Girl tells the story of a flighty lounge singer trying to escape the man controlling her life through a relationship with another woman. Providing a new twist on an old tale, the film may be too slow and derivative for mainstream audiences, but its treatment of the lesbian characters may appeal to a more focused audience.


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