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DVD REVIEW: AFFAIR OF THE NECKLACE

REVIEW: GONE IN 60 SECONDS
June 9, 2002
RETRO REVIEW: REIGN OF FIRE
July 9, 2002

DVD REVIEW: AFFAIR OF THE NECKLACE

BUY IT AT AMAZON: CLICK HERE!
Buy me!STUDIO: Warner Bros.
MSRP: $14.97 RATED: R
RUNNING TIME: 117 Minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES:
• Commentary by Charles Shyer
• Theatrical trailer(s)
• The Affair of the Necklace: The Making of a Scandal
Designing Affair
• Additional Scenes
• Gag Reel
• Cast/ Crew Highlights

The
time leading up to the French Revolution is
incredibly fascinating. Royalty and peasants,
deep societal discord, baroque architecture
and dress, a pious surface hiding a morally
corrupt core – you could set a great story here.

And
many people have. The Affair of the Necklace,
starring Oscar winner Hillary Swank, is based
on a true story taking place in the months that
led France to revolution – but is it as interesting
as the period in which it takes place?


The Feast of Assumption makes
an ass out of you and mption.

The
Flick

Swank
plays Jeanne se la Motte-Valois, whose family
was once noble but now lives in poverty. An
orphan, she has spent the years since her parents’
deaths plotting her return to high society.

The
route that she ends up taking is basically fraud.
Knowing that a beautiful diamond necklace exists
that Marie Antoinnette (you know her from Hostess
ads in old comics) wants, and that lusty bishop
or something Jonathan Pryce wants to get on
Antoinnette’s good side. So Valois forges letters
from Antoinnette, and intercepts the ones that
Pryce sends back, until she can convince him
to give her money to buy the necklace for the
Queen. Valois takes the necklace and splits
the diamonds up, sells them, and buys her old
estate back.


He was about about to become
a member of the Nation’s Dunked.

Of
course, nobody is quite as stupid as Valois
seems to think and the good times don’t last
long…

And
therein lies my first main problem with the
film. Valois’ grift is just plain dumb. Did
she really think that no one would ever figure
this out? It’s hard to root for a character
who is so obviously cruising for a bruising.


Soldiers march proudly by the
Statue of Interspecies 69.

Which
leads me to the second major problem with the
movie – Swank is about as miscast in this as
John Agar would be in the John Anderton role
in Minority Report. She never comes across as
scheming or devious, but as kind of sweet. If
she had been a real bitch it might have been
fun to anticipate the unravelling of her plan,
but since she seems like an Iowa farm girl transplanted
into the 1700s, it only reinforces the feeling
that she’s a real dummy.


"The Spanish Inquisition!
We’ve been expecting you!"

It’s
a shame that the movie never holds together.
It’s as opulent as you could want a movie in
this genre to ever be, including scenes shot
at Versailles. Jonathan Pryce is wickedly good
as the man of God who hosts orgies, and Christopher
Walken is devilish as Cagliostro, the head of
the Illuminati who helps Valois in her scam
(of course one wonders why a guy as politically
saavy as we are led to believe Cagliostro is
would get involved in such a hare brained scheme…).
Joely Richardson continues to be the goddess
of my loins as Marie Antoinette in a series
of all too sexy fancy dresses. But all of these
actors are undermined by Swank.


Louis thought it might have been
a bad idea to enter a duel armed only with swishiness.

And
by director Charles Shyer, who seems to have
left his sense of pacing at home. A costume
drama does not need to be slow, and it sure
as hell shouldn’t be tepid, which this movie
is. One of the fun things about this era is
the underlying and hidden sexual energy – all
to proper people sneaking away to do all too
improper things to one another. The Affair of
the Necklace was obviously made with an eye
on Respectability – and Oscar. An eye on heat
might have served the film better.


"Dear Ye Olde Penthouse,
I never thought it would happen to me. This
letter is about how I got Marie Antoinette’s
head…"

In
the end there really isn’t a lot to recommend
this movie, and it’s so lukewarm there isn’t
a lot to hate about it either. Unless you’re
really into costume design or a rabid completist
of the works of Christopher Walken you won’t
care much for this one. I can see why Swank
would want to try her hand at this kind of role
– after playing an almost religious martyr in
Boys Don’t Cry she wanted to make sure people
saw she wasn’t all about corn fed goodness.
Too bad she is.

6.2
out of 10

The
Look


"Hey, this is a private
conversation, God."

The
Affair of the Necklace
is full of some really
wonderful cinematography, and for the most part
the anamorphic transfer does it real justice.
Colors are vivid and true, with flesh tones
looking exceptionally nice. Some outdoor night
scenes seem to suffer though, and I wonder if
it isn’t a lighting problem with the film itself,
as some of the indoor night scenes look great.
The outdoor scenes seem to be a little murky,
while the indoor ones, even when lit by "candlelight"
have a clarity and definition that works well.

8.0
out of 10

The
Noise


"I carried this necklace
up my ass for ten years.."

The
first thing I noticed was the soundtrack on
this Dolby 5.1 surround track – it sounds great.
Also of note was the nice use of subtle surround
effects, like horse hooves in the rear channels
during a carriage sequence. The mix is immersive
without being too distracting.

8.8
out of 10

The
Goodies

First
up is a feature length commentary with director
Charles Shyer, which is pretty good. He covers
the usual bases but is a good speaker. I was
interested in the historical aspects of the
film, and he covers them pretty well, as well
as some interesting behind the scenes stuff
like the danger of over researching a film.


The new French Aristocracy habitat
at the Bronx Zoo.

There
is a boring behind the scenes featurette, a
piece on the design of the film and a gag reel
(Jonathan Pryce seems to be a funny guy to work
with). We also get a series of deleted scenes
with optional commentary. Usually the commentary
on deleted scenes is weak, but Shyer does a
good job, especially during the alternate opening
sequence. It’s interesting to hear why a scene
doesn’t work as opposed to just being told that
it doesn’t.

8.0
out of 10

The
Artwork

Buy me!

If
only Hillary Swank wore that outfit more often
in the movie. I’m not all that taken with the
art here, but it doesn’t offend as badly as
a floating head might. Her neck does seem abnormal,
however.



6.0 out of 10

Overall: 7.0 out of 10