Review: Le Combat Dans L’île DVD

Le Combat Dans L'ile DVD boxSTUDIO: Zeitgeist | DIRECTOR: Alain Cavalier | STARS: Romy Schneider, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Henri Serre, Diane Leprevier
RELEASE DATE: 6/22/10 | PRICE: DVD $29.99
BONUSES: Cavalier short France 1961, behind-the-scenes photos
SPECS: NR | 104 min. | Foreign language romance | 1.66:1 widescreen | monaural | French with English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Less a film noir than a tale of l’amour fou (tres tres fou in this case), this gorgeous-looking romance/thriller is set in the era in which it was filmed (1962), but has a plotline that seems to harken back to 18th and 19th century novels.

Le Combat Dans L'ileThe movie stars the always elegant Romy Schneider (The Trial) as a woman married to a very possessive man (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who also happens to be an assassin-in-training for a right-wing extremist group. Schneider’s character barely flinches when she learns this fact (part of the film’s delirious aspect), but she soon leaves Trintignant for his pacifist childhood chum (Henri Serre, Jules and Jim).

The film thus shifts from being a Costa Gavras-like political thriller to a violent variation on the classic romantic triangle (Serre’s casting was an obvious nod to Truffaut’s classic film). Director Alain Cavalier (Therese), working from a script by Jean-Paul Rappeneau (who went on to make the Depardieu Cyrano de Bergeraci), the film is a sort of strange fever dream that is sustained well by the well-cast leads and the evocative cinematography of Pierre Lhomme (Army of Shadows).

Included on the DVD is an interesting “homemade” extra: in lieu of an audio commentary, Cavalier made a 13-minute elegiac video in which he uses a handheld camera to pan across photos taken during the film’s production, offering both happy and sad reminiscences; among the latter is a reflection on Schneider’s drinking problem.


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About Ed

Ed Grant has written about film for a wide range of periodicals, books and websites. He edited the reference book The Motion Picture Guide Annual and, since 1993, has produced and hosted the weekly cable program Media Funhouse, which Time magazine called “the most eclectic and useful movie show on TV.”