La Belle Noiseuse appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Now there’s an aspect ratio you don’t often see for a movie from the 1990s!
Odd dimensions aside, this became a more than satisfactory presentation, with consistently good sharpness. Interiors could be a smidgen soft, but those created no real distractions, and the majority of the flick delivered nice clarity and accuracy.
At no time did moiré effects or jaggies interfere, and the presentation lacked edge haloes. In addition, I saw no signs of print flaws, and the movie boasted light but appropriate grain.
Colors tended to go a little blue, though these trends remained subdued. The film’s palette felt fairly natural and the Blu-ray reproduced the hues in a satisfying manner.
Blacks came across as deep and tight, while shadows seemed smooth and fairly concise. A few low-light shots could be a bit dense, but those areas remained fine. Overall, this wound up as an appealing transfer.
Don’t expect sonic fireworks from the film’s PCM monaural soundtrack, as it appeared highly restrained. The movie offered no score, and effects stayed firmly in the background. What we heard sounded accurate, but nothing prominent occurred in that regard.
This left dialogue as the most dominant aspect of the mix, and that side of the track worked fine, as the lines appeared natural and concise. While I couldn’t fault the execution of the track, I also found it tough to give a monaural mix from 1990 a grade above a “C”.
A few extras fill out the set, and we open with an audio commentary from film historian Richard Suchenski. He delivers a running, screen-specific look at the source novella and its adaptation, cast and performances, sets and locations, story/characters, aspect ratio, music and audio, pacing/editing, themes and interpretation and related topics.
Overall, Suchenski delivers a good commentary. While I’d like to know a bit more of the “nuts and bolts” elements about the production, he still brings an effective overview that keeps us involved for the movie’s long running time.
Next comes an Interview with Director Jacques Rivette. In this 13-minute, 28-second reel, Rivette discusses the film’s origins and development, cast and performances, the alternate Divertimento version of the movie and music. Rivette gives us some good insights but the program lacks focus and doesn’t dig into the material especially well.
We also get an Interview with Co-Writers Pascal Bonitzer and Christine Laurent. This piece fills 21 minutes, 10 seconds and delivers a view of the project’s roots and progression, the lack of a formal screenplay, the aspect ratio, story/characters, cast and performances, and aspects of the production. Dominated by Bonitzer, this reel offers a pretty useful examination of the different subjects.
In addition to a 2017 re-release trailer, the set concludes with a booklet. It provides photos and credits, so it doesn’t add much to the package.
At 100 minutes, La Belle Noiseuse would’ve delivered an intriguing character study. At 238 minutes, it feels stretched far too thin and it wears out the viewer’s patience long before it ends. The Blu-ray offers very good visuals along with acceptable audio and a decent roster of bonus materials. Noiseuse shows solid execution in many ways but it simply lacks the substance to sustain attention across its intensely long running time.