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For a Woman DVD Review

For a Woman DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com For a Woman (Pour Une Femme)

US Theatrical Release: May 2, 2014 (France: December 25, 2013) / Running Time: 110 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated

Writer/Director: Diane Kurys

Cast: Benoît Magimel (Michel Korsky), Mélanie Thierry (Léna Korsky), Nicolas Duvauchelle (Jean Korsky), Sylvie Testud (Anne), Denis Podalydès (Maurice), Julie Ferrier (Tania), Clotilde Hesme (Madeleine), Clément Sibony (Sacha)

2.35.1 Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Digital 5.1 (French), Dolby Stereo 2.0 (French)
Subtitles: English / Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: October 21, 2014 (Film-of-the-Month Club Release: May 1, 2014)
Suggested Retail Price: $24.95 / Clear Keepcase / Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Also available on Amazon Instant Video

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It is understandable if the shadow of World War II looms a little larger over Central Europe than the United States. The locations of heavy combat and concentration camps stand as a constant reminder of the global conflict even as veterans of the war approach extinction. All parts of the world continue to display a dramatic interest in WWII.
The highest grossing film of last week in North America was Fury, one of two major American dramatizations given wide theatrical release this year. The war features largely but tangentially in For a Woman (Pour Une Femme), a French film about Russian Jews who narrowly survived the war and are now moving on with their lives.

In Lyon, France in the mid-1940s, Michel Korsky (Benoît Magimel) opens a suit shop. One day, Michel gets a big surprise when his brother Jean (Nicolas Duvauchelle), whom he believed to have died in the war, shows up asking for him. Michel fears this may not be his brother, but it is. He also fears Jean must be a deserter to have gotten out of the USSR. But the veteran of the Red Army is in fact there on official business. Secretly, he is part of a network which is doing what it can to stop Nazi war criminals from escaping France. There seems to be a conflict of interest with local law enforcement, if not the Communist Party to which Michel proudly belongs.

Writer-director Diane Kurys is less interested in Jean's calling than in his romantic potential for Léna (Mélanie Thierry), Michel's unhappy wife. She describes their marriage, Michel's way of saving her from the gas chamber, as a sham. As grateful as Léna once was for that, she's now tired. She wants to work, but all she can do is fix food and drinks for her husband and look after their young daughter.

Suit maker and salesman Michel Korsky (Benoît Magimel) uses a see-through display to shows a client what a suit will look like in Diane Kurys' "For a Woman."

In Jean, Léna sees a younger, thinner, more handsome version of her husband. She wants in on that, partly intrigued by how her best lady friend has cheated on her husband without significant consequence. (Michel informs that cuckold husband that having a kid is the way to prevent her from leaving him. It worked for Michel, anyway.)

Eventually, the law closes in on Jean, who tries to cross the border while he still can, with help from Jean,
whose advances he has mostly deflected while showing obvious interest. The movie cuts back from time to time to Michel's two grown-up daughters in the 1980s through 1990, as they learn of Jean and try to make sense of his significance.

The meaning of For a Woman's nonlinear structure never makes much sense and the movie doesn't completely follow through on what you assume it will, namely the possibility that the younger of Michel's daughters is actually his niece. The stately drama holds your interest, but never fully hooks you with its romance, the connection between Jean and Léna being built purely on a mix of physical attraction and boredom. The film ends kind of on a sour note, with the middle-aged daughters not being super respectful of their dying father.

Léna (Mélanie Thierry) grows fond of Jean (Nicolas Duvauchelle), her husband's younger brother.

After five years of acting in television and film, Kurys has now spent nearly forty writing and directing movies. Her films have played at Cannes and Venice and have featured French actresses of international renown in Juliette Binoche and Isabelle Huppert. Entre Nous, her 1983 World War II drama, was nominated for the Foreign Language Film Oscar. But Kurys hasn't really developed a following outside of France and this somewhat forgettable semiautobiographical latest film won't change that, not in four-theater theatrical release last spring, not as a selection in Film Movement's Film of the Month club last May, and not in general retail where the same DVD arrived last week.


Both the 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation and the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack (which does not play by default) are of a suitable quality. Film Movement has yet to make the leap to Blu-ray, but like most new DVDs, theirs are consistently fine. The player-generated English subtitles pose no problems for those who don't know French.

Two strangers imagine a life together on the day of the Kennedy assassination in Sylvain Bressollette's 2014 short "Le Ballon de Rouge." Writer-director Diane Kurys has her nearly 40-year filmmaking career discussed in a one-paragraph biography.


The main bonus feature here is the 2014 French short film Le Ballon de Rouge (20:05). Written and directed by Sylvain Bressollette, it is set in Paris on the night of President Kennedy's assassination.

In a diner, two strangers -- a newly-hired ex-con (Thomas Drelon) and a pregnant accessory to murder (Lou de Laâge) -- consider spontaneously running off with one another and starting their new lives together. The burned-in English subtitles are marred by far too many typos, but this stylish "Mad Men"-meets-Tarantino-meets-end-of-25th Hour short is still kind of fun.

In addition, we also find the usual smattering of standard Film Movement inclusions: one-page biographies for director Diane Kurys and her two leading actors plus the company's For a Woman trailer (2:06).

The disc opens with trailers for Grigris, The Auction, and Ilo Ilo. Those are joined on a Trailers page by ones for Free Men, The Jewish Cardinal, and A Bottle in the Gaza Sea. There's also an ad and text page promoting the Film of the Month Club.

As always, the main menu sets clips from the film to a song featured in it, under the uniform listing bars.

The clear keepcase shows off the reverse side of the cover artwork, which provides three paragraphs explaining the club's selection of this title and two excerpted from an interview of Diane Kurys about this film.

Michel (Benoît Magimel) makes his brother (Nicolas Duvauchelle) a suit in "For a Woman."


For a Woman is a competent and passable post-war drama, but not something that really captivates or stays with you after it's over. Film Movement's suitable DVD may warrant a rental for interested parties (if that is easy to do) and its bonus short certainly warrants a look once the disc is in hand.

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Reviewed October 27, 2014.

Text copyright 2014 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2014 Film Movement, Europa Corp., Alexandre Films, Rise Films, France 3 Cinema, Rhône-Alpes Cinéma, New Light Films.
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