Bertrand bides his time in a casually hostile and envious friendship with college chum Guillaume. But when ladies’ man Guillaume seems to be making a play for the spirited, independent Suzanne, Bertrand watches bitterly with disapproval and jealousy. With its ragged black-and-white 16 mm photography and strong sense of 1960s Paris, Rohmer’s second “Moral Tale” is a wonderfully evocative portrait of youthful naiveté and the complicated bonds of friendship and romance.
Disc 2 (the sole single-layer disc in the set) of Criterion’s DVD box set for Eric Rohmer’s Six Moral Tales presents Suzanne’s Career in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The standard-definition presentation is sourced from a high-definition restoration scanned from a 35mm duplicate negative. The image has also been window-boxed.
Similar to the first film, The Bakery Girl of Monceau, the presentation is limited more by the source materials rather than the digital encode, though this film seems to be in worse condition than that film. The biggest and most apparent issue is that every splice is evident as the film goes from shot to shot, causing the image to jump for a couple frames, and this is a constant throughout the film. There are also tram lines, pulsing, frame jumps, and other marks and bits of dirt.
Thankfully the digital presentation doesn’t aggravate things any further. In fact, it’s actually a surprisingly solid standard-definition encode, even handling the film’s rather grainy look in an impressive manner: for DVD, it looks surprisingly natural. And though the film has a darker look to it in comparison to the previous film, contrast is still pretty good and grayscale manages to transition smoothly. The image also manages to deliver a strong level of detail throughout most of the film’s running time, with only the source looking to limit things in places.
So, again, the source limits things, but the digital presentation is still very strong, making sure not to make things worse.
Like the previous film in the set the audio is limited due to the source materials. Dialogue has obviously been post-synched and there’s a hollow, detached sound to it, and other sound effects are flat. There is a noticeable hiss but it’s easy to get past and there are no severe issues.
Each disc in the set features its own set of supplements, though Suzanne’s Career oddly gets the shaft, the disc only containing a short film, in this case Rohmer’s Nadja in Paris. The 13-minute film features an American/Yugoslav student in Paris, who talks about the city through voice-over while she ventures through it, visiting locations like the Sorbonne. She talks about the architecture, shops, and the diversity of its population. Though it appears to be a travelogue on the surface, it is more of a character study, the city having helped her find herself and figure out the person that she is.
There’s nothing else to speak of, though, not even specific to this film.
Film gets the shaft in features, but the presentation is still a good looking one, despite shortcomings around the source used.