Mauvais Sang (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
December 13, 2014 by Dennis Amith
Leos Carax’ “Mauvais Sang” is a masterpiece. It is unpredictable, unexpected yet breathtaking all at once. And the film is cinematic poetry at its very best. Highly recommended!
TITLE: Mauvais Sang
FILM RELEASE: 1986
DURATION: 119 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:68:1 Original Aspect Ratio, Color/Black and White, French 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio with English Subtitles
COMPANY: Carlotta Films/Kino Lorber
Release Date: November 18, 2014
Written and Directed by Leos Carax
Executive Producer: Denis Chateau, Philippe Diaz
Produced by Alain Dahan
Associate Producer: Marvin J. Chomsky
Cinematography by Jean-Yves Escoffier
Editing by Nelly Quettier
Casting by Helene Bernardin
Production Design by Jacques Dubus, Thomas Peckre, Michel Vandestien
Set Decoration by Bernard Leonard
Costume Design by Dominique Gregogna, Martine Metert, Robert Nardone
Michel Piccoli as Marc
Juliette Binoche as Anna
Denis Lavant as Alex
Hans Meyer as Hans
Julie Delpy as Lise
Carroll Brooks as The American Woman
Hugo Pratt as Boris
Marc and Hans, two old gangsters, plan to steal the vaccine for a mysterious virus, STBO, which affects those who make love without being in love and is wreaking havoc among teenagers. After the death of their associate Jean, the two accomplices call on his son, Alex, known as “Chatterbox”, who is a talented conjuror. Alex, who has just left his girlfriend Lise, falls madly in love with a girl in a white dress he sees on a bus. Her name is Anna and she turns out to be Marc’s mistress…
Leos Carax’s second movie Mauvais Sang is a stunning masterpiece, midway between a thriller and a romantic tale, which multiplies references to master filmmakers (Godard in particular) and seduces with its poetry and lyricism. This emblematic film of 80s French cinema established Leos Carax as one of its most talented directors, twenty-six years before Holy Motors. Starring Denis Lavant, Michel Piccoli and Juliette Binoche, Mauvais Sang is available for the first time in a stunning new HD digital restoration!
Considered as one of the great filmmakers of modern French cinema, back in the early ’80s, Leos Carax (“Holy motors”, “Tokyo!”, “The Lovers on the Bridge”) was seen as a talented director which people would see a little bit of Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut in his film style.
With positive reviews from film critics for his 1984 debut film “Boy Meets Girl”, Carax would work with actor Denis Lavant again for his second film “Mauvais Sang” (which translates to “Bad Blood” but was released with the title “The Night is Young”) but also bringing in well-known actor Michel Piccoli (“Belle de Jour”, “Contempt”, “Atlantic City”), Juliette Binoche (“Thre Colors: Blue”, “Cache”, “The English Patient”), Julie Delpy (“Before Sunrise”, “Before Sunset”, “Before Midnight”) and Hans Meyer (“Barry Lyndon”, “Red Sonja”, “Brotherhood of the Wolf”).
“Mauvais Sang” would become part of Carax’ “Love Trilogy” and the film would receive three Cesar Award nominations and winning the Prix Louis-Delluc.
And now the newly restored film will receive a new Blu-ray release courtesy of Kino Lorber which will also include the Tessa Louise-Salome documentary “Mr X, A Vision of Leos Carax”.
It’s important to note that “Mauvais Sang” is not a film that can be easily described. It must be experienced visually as the cinematic shots by Jean-Yves Escoffier (“Good Will Hunting”, “Rounders”, “Nurse Betty”) are mesmerizing and magnificent.
The film is set in Paris during a time when a disease known as STBO is killing young people who make love without any emotional involvement.
A serum has been developed but it is kept in a highly secure area and is locked away.
We are then introduced to Marc (portrayed by Michel Piccoli) and his friend Hans (portrayed by Hans Meyer) who encounter an American woman (portrayed by Carroll Brooks), her henchman Boris (portrayed by Hugo Bratt) that Marc has two weeks to pay off debt that he owes her. We also learn that their partner Jean is no longer alive for some apparent reason.
Marc needs to make money and the way to do that…steal the STBO serum and sell it.
But in order to accomplish such a feat., he will need someone with quick hands and Marc remembers that Jean told him that if there was someone that was as good as him, it would be his son Alex (portrayed by Denis Lavant).
We then catch Alex and his girlfriend Lise (portrayed by Julie Delpy), as they love to spend time together and have sex. But as quickly as Alex is having fun, he is approached by Hans and is offered a chance to make a ton of money but also fly to another country.
And as Alex packs his bag and leaves home without telling Lise where he is moving to, he leaves her to team up with Marc and Hans. He eventually finds out there is a third person involved and it’s Marc’s younger lover, Anna (portrayed by Juliette Binoche).
And as the four plan and scheme on how to execute the plan, Alex starts to find himself drawn to Anna.
But would Alex be crazy enough and try to try and get close to Anna?
Meanwhile, the American woman knows that Marc is up to something and tells Alex that if he works for her, he will make even more money.
Which path will Alex choose?
“Mauvais Sang” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:66:1 aspect ratio) and features the 2K restoration which was undertaken by UK’s Artificial Eye. Compared to the DVD release, there is a huge difference as the Blu-ray release features better colors, much better detail especially on close-ups.
The film doesn’t look its age at all. Skin tones are natural, black levels are nice and deep. There is no signs of white specks or damage to the film.
This is the definitive version of “Mauvais Sang” to own!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Mauvais Sang” comes with a French DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 soundtrack with optional English subtitles.
Dialogue and music are crisper and clearer compared to the DVD release with no audio problems or any signs of hiss or crackle.
“Mauvais Sang” comes with the following special features:
- Outtakes and Rushes – (20:22) Old footage of outtakes and rushes from “Mauvais Sang” (note: There is no audio for this portion)
- Deleted Scene – (5:26) A deleted scene featuring a conversation between Franc and Alex.
- Original Trailer – (2:17) The original 1986 trailer for “Mauvais Sang”.
- 2013 Trailer – (1:45) The trailer for the restored version of “Mauvais Sang”.
- “Mr. X, A Vision of Leos Carax” – (1:13:16) Tessa Louise-Salome’s documentary of the oeuvre of Leos Carax.
“Mauvais Sang” comes with a slipcover.
Watching “Mauvais Sang”, digitally restored, I couldn’t help but grin throughout the film.
While “Holy Motors” is a film that probably many people today are familiar with when it comes with Leos Carax films, for me, Leos Carax’ finest masterpiece was his 1986 film “Mauvais Sang”.
The film was like an ode to Nouvelle Vague, an ode to Jean Luc-Godard, Francois Truffaut and Robert Bresson.
Films that can depict an underworld but yet captivate you with its characters thanks to the amazing performance by Denis Lavant and Juliette Binoche.
But the performance by Lavant is fluid, yet unpredictable. Almost in a Chaplin-esque kind of way, he is a physical actor that shines on screen. The cinematography by Jean-Yves Escoffier and the wonderful editing by Nelly Quettier is equally unexpected with a smorgasbord of imagery that captivates you.
And I bring up Jean-Luc Godard, best known for unexpected moments and disruptions that translate into cinematic poetry. Also, similar to Godard and his muse/wife Anna Karina, Juliette Binoche was Carax’ girlfriend at the time and for anyone who has watched Binoche in her more recent films, will always fall in love with the vitality of her younger self in “Mauvais Sang”.
The relationship between Alex and Anna is very interesting because both characters do not communicate. They look at each other but a large part of the film is shot without words and the fact that the scenes are shot effortlessly with efficacy, you just don’t see this in films any longer.
And of course, one of the most famous moments of the film (I will always remember the moment at 47 minutes into the film) which shows Alex walking with pain and stumbling in self-punishment knowing that he is in love. With his stabbing motion to the abs, smoking a cigarette and running and dancing in full speed and doing a somersault to David Bowie’s “Modern Love”. Such a wonderful scene in cinema that even filmmaker Noah Baumbach paid homage to the scene in his film “Frances Ha”.
The scene after is also mesmerizing as Alex visits Anna and you see a slow motion of her waving her brushing her hair and waving it while featured in slow motion. Or when he carries her off to the road during a hot summer when the heat on the pavement proves to hot for Anna, such a wonderful scene in the film!
And the film looks magnificent in HD as the 2K restoration of the film features much better colors, much better detail and the film looks and sounds better than ever! The Blu-ray also features several special features but also the exclusive documentary “Mr. X, a Vision of Leos Carax” by filmmaker Tessa Louise-Salome which features the films by Leos Carax and interviews with those who have worked with him. In essence, a tribute to the French filmmaker.
Overall, Leos Carax’ “Mauvais Sang” is a masterpiece. It is unpredictable, unexpected yet breathtaking all at once. And the film is cinematic poetry at its very best!
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