A Couch in New York/ C+, D
Fox Lorber/1997/104/WS 1.85
Here's the set-up. Successful, burnt-out New
York psychoanalyst Henry needs a change of scene. He places an ad
in the International Herald Tribune for a Paris apartment swap. Flaky but
beautiful Beatrice Saulnier spots the ad jumping at the chance for a New
York stay. As Henry arrives in Paris, Beatrice arrive sin New York.
Watching Saulnier in New York overpowers Harriston's
Paris interlude. The absurd apartment exchange makes virtually no sense. Did it have
to be so ridiculous to carry out the plot? Beatrice is a slob beyond reason. It's overdone to the point of
undermining the humor.
believe Juliette loves the dog. ©Fox Lorber
The film has a slow start but some inspired bits
creep up on you. The idea that Harriston can't escape being a psychoanalyst whether on
vacation in Paris or seeing patients in New York is sly. It's
almost as if he were genetically encrypted with the analyst gene. With
Beatrice installed in Harriston
apartment/office patients arrive virtually disregarding the change. What's a girl to do?
Beatrice finds the solution and the results are entertaining. Some of the resulting
psychoanalysis commentary is very funny.
Juliette Binoche positively glows as Beatrice
Saulnier. Director Chantal Akerman capture's Binoche's beauty with a caressing lens. Her eyes are
amazing. She has a ability with her eyes to make them smile with the
subtlest change to display wonderful bemusement. On the other hand,
Hurt looks pretty dried out as Harrison and doesn't do justice to the comedy. He
brings his scenes down a peg. It's almost as if he's reciting his lines
rather than inhabiting a character. Beatrice's friend Anne played with charm by Stephanie Buttle is a funny
character. Harriston's friend Dennis played by Paul Guilfoyle is a poorly
Akerman works the farce hard. A Couch in New York is a real walking and
talking movie. Walking
through Central Park talking, walking the streets talking; Henry and Dennis
talking, Beatrice and Anne talking, Henry and Beatrice talking and walking.
The Brooklyn segment is almost too colorful; the febrile street activity
stems more from the imagination of a French woman, in this case
writer/director Ackerman, than reality. It's disappointing that the psychoanalyst's office scenes between Harriston
and Saulnier are mostly one shots as opposed
to using the wide screen aspect for two shots. I think it fails to make the
most of the situation.
More problematic are the insurmountable stumbling
blocks of A Couch in New York. What's appealing about Henry Harriston? Is it that he's so
Why should Beatrice Saulnier fall in love with him? Saulnier is colossally
appealing. She's the earth mother. But in combination with Harriston she's
wasted. Too bad. There seems to be nothing to the
romance and there are certainly no sparks ignited by Binoche and Hurt as a
Despite some very imaginative turns in A Couch in New York,
too much of
the humor falls as flat as overused upholstery.
A number of soft scenes. Black level is much too
high. It required a significant adjustment from my calibrated setting to
make the picture watchable. Decent color saturation. There's some jitter
from time to time, but what makes the picture a total disaster in some
scenes in the lack of 3-2 pulldown encoding. Striped shirts are a mass of
quivering worms. Park leaves have celluloid tantrums. Fleshtones are
somewhat pasty. Shadow detail is quite weak. Contrast range is limited in a
number of the night scenes. Is the film watchable. Yes, it is, but it's
disappointing. There's no reason to deliver such a sloppy transfer tot he
Reviewed on a Sharp 9000VX DLP Projector
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