The Color of Lies
The murder of a 10 year old girl sparks rumours and gossip in The Color of Lies (Au Coeur Du Mensonge), as suspicion falls on René (Jacques Gamblin) the dour once famous painter, now art teacher, who was the last person to see her alive.
Claude Chabrol’s The Color of Lies receives an all-new Blu-ray edition from Arrow Video, presented on the second dual-layer disc of their new set, Twisting the Knife: Four Films by Claude Chabrol. The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 with a 1080p/24hz high-definition encode.
Following one exceptional looking presentation after the other, The Color of Lies marks a significant drop in quality in Arrow's recent string of Chabrol titles on Blu-ray, with the rest, save for the two Lavardin films found in the previous set (with both of those still looking to come from recent masters), having been sourced from recent 4K restorations. The Color of Lies' presentation clearly comes from an older master, and it’s a bit of a rough one.
Though I suspect Arrow is doing the best they can with it the image still comes off incredibly noisy and digital in the end. Grain is present but it looks especially blocky and rough, never natural, or clean, and it can get a bit worse in darker sequences, where blacks are murky and flat. Edge-enhancement and ringing are both steady throughout, with banding also showing its ugly head on occasion. A foggy nighttime sequence late in the film gets especially messy thanks to all of these artifacts. Details are be limited thanks the blocky nature of the grain, managing to eat up those finer ones.
Damage, much to my surprise, isn’t an issue, Arrow more than likely touching things up further. There can be a faint pulse at times, and I noticed a frame jump late in the film, where a character falls and gets back up, but otherwise the source material appears to be in good shape.
As to why the film didn’t receive the same level of care the other Chabrol films have I can’t say, but it’s an incredible disappointment.
The lossless PCM 2.0 stereo soundtrack, at the very least, is pretty effective. Sound quality is sharp, dialogue coming off clean and natural, and there’s a nice spread for the coastal sound effects, whether they be waves hitting the coastline or gulls crying out in the background. Movement and panning also comes off naturally.
[Update (May 5, 2022): I missed this when initially going through the disc, but David Kalat's piece entitled What's Eating Claude Chabrol?, which is listed as a supplement on the back of the cover, is missing from the supplement menu, but the file is on the disc: 00013.m2ts. I'm not sure if this is an error or it's offered up as some sort of easter egg on the disc, but it is right there on the disc.]
The second disc in Arrow’s Twisting the Knife set starts things off with another audio commentary featuring critic Barry Forshaw and author Sean Hogan, who also provided a track for the previous film in the set, The Swindle. As with that one they use the opportunity to talk about reassessing Chabrol’s later-period films, if to a smaller degree here, before looking at this film as one of Chabrol’s more straight-forward “whodunnits,” though with more of a concern at using the opportunity to explore one of his favourite subjects, that of the secrets that can be found in a small town. They talk about characters, plot points, red herrings, and more, doing a decent job summing up the film and pushing what they feel are its strengths, with the two, yet again, keeping things engaging and the conversation going.
I enjoyed the track but, rather sadly, the only other new feature is a 14-minute video essay by Scout Tafoya, which leaves a bit to be desired. His piece aims to point out the significance and importance of how art is portrayed in the film, saying the film is a “thriller in the reflection of art,” and what it all means in terms of legacy and how one will be remembered, Chabrol maybe thinking about his work in this context at this point in his life. It’s a fluffy piece and not especially engaging I’m sad to say, relying almost entirely on clips from the film with thin “contemplative” narration by Tafoya inserted sporadically.
The archival features prove to be a bit better overall. There’s a decent if underwhelming behind-the-scenes featurette running 25-minutes, possibly put together for a previous DVD edition, featuring interviews with Chabrol, stars Jacques Gamblin and Sandrine Bonnaire, and others, talking about the film’s subject matter and their respective roles, with comments around how Chabrol works with his actors. It's a typical DVD featurette of the time. Joël Magny offers up another introduction, which is more-or-less a summary of the film with the suggestion it’s part of a trilogy “of doubt” that includes Torment and Nightcap. Claude Chabrol’s select-scene commentary is then carried over from a previous DVD edition, featuring the director talking over 20-minutes’ worth of the film. Similar to his other tracks he explains his reasoning behind his choices in how characters interact with one another, how everything is framed, how he adjusts tones, and so on. He even brings up influences, which includes Fritz Lang. Like the other tracks featuring the director it’s well worth going through and it ends up being the best archival feature on this disc.
The disc then closes with the original trailer and a small gallery featuring a few production photos and a poster.
Though I enjoyed the commentaries the material found on this disc is far less satisfying as a whole compared to what the previous disc offered.
Easily the most disappointing disc from Arrow’s recent batch of Chabrol releases, the disc features a ho-hum overall set of features and a weak video presentation due to an incredibly dated master.