Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 21st, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: France / Italy, 1969
Director: François Truffaut
Writers: François Truffaut, Cornell Woolrich
Cast: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Catherine Deneuve, Nelly Borgeaud, Martine Ferrière, Marcel Berbert, Yves Drouhet, Michel Bouquet, Roland Thénot
BluRay released: June 9th, 2015
Approximate running times: 123 Minutes
Aspect Ratios: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono French
BluRay Release: Twilight Time
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: OOP
Synopsis: A wealthy plantation owner finds his bride through an ad that he placed in the newspaper. And from the moment of her arrival there is something that is not quite right about her. Not deterred he deals with these new obstacles and throws himself into the relationship. At first their relationship blossoms, until one day when he discovers the truth about her. Will he be able to move on or will his growing obsession for her lead to his demise?
With Mississippi Mermaid François Truffaut would return to territory that he had previous explored in The Bride Wore Black. Besides both film’s being rooted in the suspense genre, another link that they share is that they were both written by Cornell Woolrich. And once again François Truffaut pays homage to Alfred Hitchcock and more specifically Vertigo. Another clear influence on this film is director Jean Renoir. Footage from his film La Marseillaise appears in this film.
The premise of a doomed love affair is well executed and pacing is never an issue with key moments given an ample amount of time to resonate. The main characters are another area where this film excels. And they are superbly realized by Jean-Paul Belmondo (Breathless, Pierrot le Fou) in the role of a wealthy plantation owner named Louis Mahé and Catherine Deneuve (Repulsion, Belle de Jour) in the role the woman Louis falls in love with. Another performance of note includes, Michel Bouquet (Malpertuis) in the role of Comolli, a tenacious private detective who refuses to give up until he solves a case.
This film features an efficient score from Antoine Duhamel (Weekend, Stolen Kisses) and the visuals take full advantage of this film’s picturesque locations. Key moments in the film include, Catherine Deneuve’s character’s introduction and a scene where her character acts likes she needs help buttoning up her dress. Another key moment includes, a scene where her characters who is already ready for bed changes into a dress by the time Louis gets from the lobby to their room. And to top off this moment she pretends that she is sleeping when he enters the room. These are just three of several moments that give insight into her characters’ psyche.
Though this film features many of the suspense genres tried and true staples. These are just used to further the story at hand. It’s ultimate power lays in its ability to express the emotions of its main characters.
Mississippi Mermaid comes on a 50 GB dual layer (31.8 GB) BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Though this transfer leaves some room for improvement. When compared to previous home video releases, colors and image clarity are a substantial upgrade. Print debris is minimal, grain varies throughout and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and non-removable English subtitles. The audio is free of distortion or background noise, dialog comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced and the score sounds robust.
Extras for this release include, an option to view the Twilight Time catalog, an eight page booklet with an essay about the film written by Julie Kirgo, MGM’s 90th Anniversary Trailer (2 minutes 4 seconds), a English language trailer for the film (1 minute 35 seconds), an option to listen to a Isolated music track and an audio commentary with films historians Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, how the film’s opening setup sets a solid foundation for what is about the unfold, Réunion island, editing, themes that are explored in this films and themes that are recurring throughout François Truffaut’s films, Jean Renoir influence, why the film’s French title Mississippi Siren is more appropriate than the film’s American release title Mississippi Mermaid, the evolution of the screenplay, how the film was shot in sequence, the characters and their motivations, the cast and information about them, how there was 15 minutes cut from the film when it was originally released in America, Vertigo’s influence and their thoughts about the film.
Overall Mississippi Mermaid gets a strong release from Twilight Time.
Note: This Blu-Ray release is a limited-edition release of 3,000 copies.