Sunday, February 9, 2014

Trans-Europ-Express (Blu-ray Review) - Kino Redemption

Directed By: Alain Robbe-Grillet
Written By: Alain Robbe-Grillet
Starring: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Marie-France Pisier
Black & White/94 Minutes/Not Rated
Region A

The Film
Jean-Louis Trintignant stars in this neo-noir film that plays out almost as a parody and certainly a love letter to the Film Noir genre from director Alain Robbe-Grillet. While aboard a train from Paris to Antwerp a filmmaking team begins to work on the plot of an upcoming crime movie. As they come up with the details to the story we see it acted out as the main meat and potatoes of TRANS-EUROP-EXPRESS (also the name of the movie within the movie). The story pertains to a drug smuggler named Elias (Trintignant) who is being seduced by a woman named Eva (Pisier) who may or may not be working for a rival drug ring. As the filmmaking team changes details around in their story, Elias' world becomes confusing with enemies becoming friends, friends becoming enemies, leads disappearing and seemingly everything he knows being turned on its head.

TRANS-EUROP-EXPRESS is a well made thriller that could easily be seen as being to Film Noirs what Scream is to the slasher film. It's self-referential style pokes around at the genre while still playing out as a fulfilling enough crime tale. Alain Robbe-Grillet's direction is tight, with a bit of flare and a eye for visual appeal. Trintignant is fantastic in the lead role and is quickly becoming an actor who I greatly admire as I become more familiar with his work. Marie-France Pisier is lovely and easy on the eyes as Eva, who plays her seductress role to a T. She manages to tell a story with her eyes alone and the S&M moments are quite alluring. Robbe-Grillet manages to make TRANS-EUROP-EXPRESS both sexy and enthralling while being a bit witty as well.

The Audio & Video
The Redemption Films line from Kino has released some great Blu-rays to date and TRANS-EUROP-EXPRESS is yet another. The beautiful black and white cinematography looks natural and film-like, retaining a suitable amount of grain in the 1.66:1 widescreen transfer, taken from 35mm elements. Black levels are deep while white levels never get too hot. This is an exceptional looking disc. The French audio track is presented with English subtitles and is also great. There is no background noise or any other annoyances. It is a crisp and clean sounding track. 

The Extras
 The main extra on the disc is a 31 minute interview with the director. It accompanies a set of trailers for other Robbe-Grillet films and a newly created promotional short.

The Bottom Line
If you're a fan of the film noir, European cinema of the 60s or just good Blu-ray presentations you should absolutely grab TRANS-EUROP-EXPRESS.


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