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Two for the Road [Masters of Cinema][UK] Blu-ray Review

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The Film

[Rating:3.5/5]

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Director Stanley Donen, who made his name with such big budget studio hits as Singin’ in the Rain and Charade, emerged in the post-studio system era with this non-linear story about a couple and the travails of married life. Starring Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney, Two for the Road was an opportunity for Donen to stretch his artistic abilities outside of the confines of the studio system.

Embracing the nouvelle vague, Stanley Donen and screenwriter Frederic Raphael (Eyes Wide Shut) give us 12-years in the relationship of architect Mark Wallace (Albert Finney) and his wife Joanna (Audrey Hepburn). The film begins with the couple heading to the airport; we can tell right away that they have been married for a while and they aren’t on very good terms. Their conversations are short, cutting, not very polite.

Like the uneasiness between Mark and Joanna, Donen’s filmmaking style makes us uneasy. He jump-cuts back and forth between various points on the timeline in the couple’s history. We flashback to various points during Mark and Joanna’s road trips through southern France (the film was shot on location in the region). We see when the first met, Joanna a young, carefree singer in an all women’s choir, and Mark backpacking his way through France. We see them as newlyweds on a miserable drive through France with Mark’s old girlfriend, her husband, and their bratty young daughter. We also see them with a daughter of their own, growing apart, having their own separate extramarital affairs, and, through all of it, keeping their marriage together, in some masochistic sense of duty.

Donen’s “innovative” non-linear storytelling keeps viewers at a distance from the rawness and humanity of a relationship in turmoil, but the performances from Hepburn and Finney go a long way in bridging the gap. The chemistry between the two onscreen is palpable. The rough and tumble, muscular charm of Finney with the elegance of Hepburn against a beautiful visual backdrop and the romantic music of Henry Mancini helps dilute what sense of distance may creep in from Donen’s style.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

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We get an excellent, reference quality AVC 1080p transfer to Blu-ray of Two for the Road in this Masters of Cinema release. It not only looks film-like, but it also shows strong contrast, bold primaries, yet natural flesh tones. Source damage is minimal, and the grain structure remains pretty consistent from start to finish.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

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The monaural mix provided in LPCM 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit) is just a little boxy but more than adequate in conveying the mostly dialogue-driven soundtrack and musical score by Henry Mancini with only the slightest hint of crackle.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

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  • Audio commentary featuring director Stanley Donen
  • Memories of Travel with Frederic Raphael (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 00:25:34)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:02:15)
  • Booklet – 33-page booklet features an essay on the film by Jessica Felrice, production stills, and film credits

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

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Two for the Road featured two powerhouse performances from A-list actors and was a breakout, non-studio system film for the stalwart of studio films Stanley Donen. The style, the music, and the location all came together to make a romatic drama that is quite satisfactory and it includes one of the more memorable endings on the big screen, the famous “bitch/bastard” kissing scene.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B00Q8NEC5W[/amazon-product]

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[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B00Q8NEC5W[/amazon-product]

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