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They say that Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, well COUSIN BETTE ($35) is a film that certainly proves the saying true. COUSIN BETTE is a wicked, but oh so amusing tale of love, sex and revenge set in 19th century France. However, compared to most Hollywood offerings that beat audiences over the head with their plots, COUSIN BETTE is a subtle little treat certain to tickle discriminating viewers.

COUSIN BETTE stars Jessica Lange as Bette Fisher, the put upon poor relation who gets even with her snobbish, aristocratic relatives by innocently manipulating them into their own well deserved downfalls. As the film opens, we learn that Bette sacrificed her own happiness and became a spinster, so that her cousin would be able to marry above her station and lead the life of a lady. When her cousin dies, Bette assumes that her relatives will reward her sacrifices. Instead, they offer her the position of housekeeper. Of course, this final insult doesn't go unanswered and Bette sets into motion a plot that ruins each member of her self-centered family. COUSIN BETTE also stars Elisabeth Shue as Jenny Cadine, an actress whose obvious charms have made her one of the most sought after women in Paris, as well as Bette’s best weapon against her family. COUSIN BETTE also features fine performances by Bob Hoskins, Hugh Laurie, Kelly MacDonald, Toby Stephens, Aden Young and Geraldine Chaplin.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has done a rather good job of transcribing COUSIN BETTE to DVD. The film is presented in its proper 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio, unlike the claim of 1.85:1 on the DVD's packaging. While the transfer is exquisite looking, it sadly lacks the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 wide screen televisions. Despite the lack of the enhancement, the transfer reproduces Andrzej Sekula's luscious cinematography with amazing fidelity. Colors are superbly rendered without a trace of noise or distortion, while the image is sharp and finely detailed. Digital compression artifacts were seldom bothersome on the well-authored DVD.

The Dolby Digital soundtrack is of the two-channel variety and decodes to standard surround. Even though a 5.1 channel soundtrack is usually more impressive, this well mixed track proves that Dolby Surround can still be quite pleasing. Dialogue reproduction was very clean and well centered, while the music had a strong presence that enveloped the viewer. English and Spanish subtitles were encoded into the DVD.

The interactive menus had a simple, yet pleasing design that offered the standard language and scene selection features, plus access to a theatrical trailer.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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