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Artisan Home Entertainment presents
A Strange Affair (1996)

"What is this, the Popular Mechanics version of Jules and Jim?"
- Eric McKeever (Jay Thomas)

Review By: Robert Edwards   
Published: October 28, 2003

Stars: Judith Light, Jay Thomas, Linda Sorenson
Other Stars: Robin Dunne, Rachel Wilson, William Russ
Director: Ted Kotcheff

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing offensive)
Run Time: 01h:32m:48s
Release Date: September 23, 2003
UPC: 012236144083
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
D+ C-B-B F

DVD Review

Melodrama as a form is notoriously difficult to define, but it certainly can be characterized in broad strokes by its emphasis on family, its frequently unmotivated emotional excesses, stories told from a woman's point of view, and the fact that it is often directed towards a female audience. When such master filmmakers as Douglas Sirk, Max Ophuls, or Vicente Minnelli turn their hands to melodrama, it can be not only a source of real emotion and power, but also a powerful site of criticism of the society it purports to represent. In the hands of lesser craftsmen, however, it is just as often boring, clichéd, and cringe-inducing.

Lisa (Judith Light) has finally had enough of her husband Eric (Jay Thomas), a former filmmaker who's addicted to gambling, cheats on her, and has just stolen over $9000 from her personal bank account. No sooner has she packed her bags and moved into a hotel than he has a stroke, and now that he's bedridden, Lisa realizes she has to care for him for the long term. Strapped for cash and looking for a job, she throws herself upon the mercy of an auto mechanic, Art Maskin (William Russ), when she can't afford the needed repairs. Art is not only willing to do the work for free, but he's soon doing the yard work and helping her with her new business. Only someone who was born in a coma wouldn't be able to guess what happens next.

Writer Daniel Freudenberger sure knows his intended audience, and isn't afraid of pandering to them. The character of Lisa is strong, resourceful, smart, cheerful, and attractive—but not so attractive as to be threatening. And Art is just a dream man—first of all, he's a mechanic (there's his macho cred), also an accomplished gourmet cook (so he's the sensitive type as well), and, believe it or not, flies his own airplane (the dreamy romantic type)! All in all the perfect man, and just like my own mechanic—not. And I'm not too sure about the wisdom of portraying the filmmaker husband as the weak, ineffectual, whiny type. That's a little too close to biting the hand that feeds.

There's not a whole lot else to say about this movie. Depressingly, predictably, every time things between the threesome are going well, some new crisis rears its ugly head and upsets the apple cart. The directing is completely functional, with zero flair. And guess what—the movie has a happy ending.

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


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This is a good transfer from the original 1.33 material. Colors are solid, even vibrant, and skin tones are mostly accurate, although orangish in some scenes, and there is never any true black. There is some "grain" evident in some scenes, although this is not the original film grain, but the result of the transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: For a character-driven melodrama, you wouldn't expect much in the way of surround activity, and that's exactly what you get. Other than that, the sound is perfectly serviceable, with clear dialogue, and the music that inevitably pops in just in case we forget that we're supposed to be responding emotionally is fine.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Extras? What extras? Artisan didn't even bother to include a menu—just pop the disc into the DVD player and the movie starts. On the other hand, you could argue that they included exactly as many extras as the movie deserves.

Extras Grade: F


Final Comments

Ted Kotcheff's TV movie, A Strange Affair, is a depressingly predictable look at a suburban ménage à trois. Although the transfer is good, this one should have stayed on TV where it belongs


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