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Blu-Ray : Worth a Look
Ranking:
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Release Date: March 26th, 2024 Movie Release Year: 1973

Réjeanne Padovani

Overview -

Blu-ray Review By: Jesse Skeen
Réjeanne Padovani, the second film in director Denys Arcand's informal Canadian crime trilogy (also consisting of Dirty Money (1971) and Gina (1975)) comes to Blu-Ray from Canadian International Pictures. It's quite short and to the point, although the elements of organized crime may be a bit vague to first-time viewers. Worth a look.

50th anniversary special edition!

Montreal mafioso Vincent Padovani (Tadpole and the Whale’s Jean Lajeunesse) has spent years building a diversified crime empire fronted by “legitimate” business interests and sustained through illicit political connections. Having secured a much-publicized government contract for his thriving construction company, Vincent is throwing an opulent private dinner to thank his many co-conspirators, including the Mayor of Montreal (Blind Trust’s René Caron) and a host of other highly placed powerbrokers. But when the evening is thrown wildly off course – by press at the door, a looming construction protest, and the sudden reappearance of Padovani’s estranged wife Réjeanne (Dirty Money’s Luce Guilbeault) – the mob enforcers and corrupt cops that serve Vincent are called into action for a long and bloody night’s work.

Three decades before winning the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for The Barbarian Invasions, Denys Arcand started his fiction filmmaking career with an informal trilogy (Dirty Money, Réjeanne Padovani, and Gina) that remains the high-water mark for Canadian crime cinema. Powered by an all-star Quebecois cast – many playing thinly veiled versions of real-life politicians and gangsters – Réjeanne Padovani is a grand, gloriously acidic indictment of the pervasive corruption that infiltrated all corners of ’70s Quebec. Mixing the upstairs-downstairs satire of The Rules of the Game with the mafia intrigue of The Godfather, this is one of Canada’s sharpest and most incriminating cinematic self-portraits.

directed by: Denys Arcand
starring: Jean Lajeunesse, Luce Guilbeault, J. Léo Gagnon, Thérèse Cadorette, René Caron, Hélène Loiselle, Jean-Pierre Lefebvre, Frédérique Collin, Roger Lebel, Céline Lomez, Paule Baillargeon, Gabriel Arcand
1973 / 94 min / 1.78:1 / French DTS-HD MA 2.0

Additional info:

  • Region Free Blu-ray
  • Newly scanned and restored in 2K from the 35mm original camera negative by Éléphant - mémoire du cinéma québécois with sound transferred and restored from the original magnetic final mix and optical track
  • Audio commentary featuring author and professor Anthony Kinik
  • Shooting Réjeanne (2023, 24 min.) – New interview with director Denys Arcand
  • New audio interviews with cast members Gabriel Arcand (10 min.), Paule Baillargeon (11 min.), and Céline Lomez (23 min.)
  • Trailers for Arcand’s Dirty Money (1972), Réjeanne Padovani (1973), and Gina (1975)
  • Booklet featuring a new interview with author Peter Edwards (The Encyclopedia of Canadian Organized Crime)
  • Reversible cover artwork
  • Alternate English language audio track
  • English SDH subtitles

OVERALL:
Worth a Look
Rating Breakdown
STORY
VIDEO
AUDIO
SPECIAL FEATURES
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
Region Free Blu-ray - Newly scanned and restored in 2K from the 35mm original camera negative by Éléphant - mémoire du cinéma québécois with sound transferred and restored from the original magnetic final mix and optical track
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p/MPEG-4 AVC
Length:
94
Aspect Ratio(s):
1.78:1
Audio Formats:
French DTS-HD MA 2.0 (mono), English DTS-HD MA 2.0 (mono, dubbed)
Subtitles/Captions:
English SDH, English
Special Features:
Audio commentary featuring author and professor Anthony Kinik, Shooting Rejeanne- New interview with director Denys Arcand (2023, 24 min.), New audio interviews with cast members Gabriel Arcand, Paule Baillargeon and Celine Lomez, New audio interviews with cast members Gabriel Arcand, Paule Baillargeon and Celine Lomez, Trailers for Arcand's Dirty Money, Rejeanne Padovani and Gina
Release Date:
March 26th, 2024

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

Ranking:

The title character of 1973's Rejeanne Padovani (Luce Guilbeault) is the estranged wife of Montreal crime boss Vincent Padovani (Jean Lajeunesse). He's having a dinner party with many important people including Montreal's mayor (Rene Caron) to celebrate the upcoming opening of a new freeway that one of his companies has built. Along with the dinner is some gift-giving and opera singing.

One of Vincent's employees gets a phone call during the party and then has to set up a meeting to break the news to him: Rejeanne has been seen back in Montreal along with the man she left Vincent for who happens to be part of a rival organized crime syndicate. This breaks an agreement from a couple of years ago that she was never to return to Montreal, and certainly never seen in public there. Two of Vincent's "men" go off searching for her, and she is eventually found in the greenhouse on the property explaining that she just wants to be with her children again; her lover is terminally ill.

Meanwhile, unwanted reporters also show up outside the house during the party hoping to get some pictures- a protest against the freeway is being organized by those whose homes were or are about to be torn down to make way for it. Their film is confiscated and destroyed and they are also roughed up a bit before being sent away. The city's mayor is taken aboard Vincent's yacht and treated to the company of two "professional" women as a way of thanking him for the freeway project's success.

The film is spoken in French with optional English subtitles, an English dubbed track is also included but like most dubs, it just sounds silly. Having watched the film both ways, I feel like I must have missed something in translation. I can't state my full criticism of the movie without spoiling the ending, but even disregarding the ending (which is pretty straightforward) it wasn't really clear to me why the wife's appearance was such a big deal. It was only through the commentary track and further reading I learned that in this story, the wife's appearance in public was considered a huge insult to Vincent or anyone else in similar positions. Vincent is also concerned about a big demonstration against the freeway, but this isn't really spelled out clearly either. The only signs of this potentially happening are the two reporters showing up outside, and later members of Vincent's "company" are shown breaking into the office of what appears to be an underground newspaper, punching the people there, throwing them out windows and then destroying their equipment. Again, it just felt like something must have been lost in translation as the expression goes.

The film still made for interesting viewing, mainly with the early 70s decor, and the filmmaking style appeared quite straightforward with the camera remaining stationary during most shots, some giving the view of looking into the proceedings from outside the room, and no musical score aside from sections of an opera performed onscreen at the party and repeated over the ending.

Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-Ray
The Blu-Ray from Canadian International Pictures and distributed by OCN Distribution arrives in a clear case with reversible artwork, and includes a booklet with movie photos and a conversation with writer David Marriott and journalist Peter Edwards on the Mafia in Canada. The movie is encoded in AVC with audio in 2-channel DTS-HD Master Audio.

Video Review

Ranking:

The full 1.78:1 frame transfer is very clean, making the movie look brand new without over-enhancing it for more modern aesthetics. At times it appears quite plain, without many bright colors present in most scenes. Detail allows you to clearly read calendars in the background showing that this was shot in late 1972. A small amount of film grain is present which is appropriate to the type of film this is, and disc authoring is excellent with no visible compression artifacts even in nighttime scenes.

Audio Review

Ranking:

The mono audio mix (encoded in 2-channel DTS Master Audio) isn't anything special, again this is a dialogue-heavy picture with no real music score. Sound effects such as that of construction equipment near the end instead provide the soundscape. Audio quality is not spectacular but not awful either; there are a few silent moments where it sounds like the audio was muted rather than allowing any noise on the audio track to be heard. The quality of the included English dubbed audio track is of equal quality but made it more difficult to take the film seriously; if you do not understand French it is best to watch this in its native language with English subtitles.

Special Features

Ranking:
  • Audio Commentary featuring author and professor Anthony Kinik discusses the careers of the cast and crew while also explaining many plot points as they occur, making the movie a bit easier for me to follow.
  • Shooting Rejeanne is a conversation in English with director Denys Arcand where he recalls attending a party and seeing a connection between the mob and local government
  • New audio interviews with cast members Gabriel Arcand, Paule Baillargeon, and Celine Lomez are in English and follow a format used on previous Canadian International Pictures releases where a short clip from the film showing them is played and then freeze-framed for the duration of the conversation.
  • Trailers for Arcand's Dirty Money (1972), Rejeanne Padovani (1973), and Gina (1975) (all in French with optional English subtitles) comprise Arcand's unofficial trilogy. The option is given to have the first and third of these play before the movie.

Final Thoughts

American audiences generally know Canada as a place where some of our mainstream movies and many B-pictures are shot with the advantage of it being a less expensive place to film than the US, making for sometimes good and sometimes comical results. Rejeanne Padovani is a genuine Canadian film. I found it a bit difficult to follow on first viewing and the ending left me with unanswered questions, but definitely enjoyed the early 70s scenery and it's likely that you'll see more in this movie than I did. Worth a look.

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