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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • French: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Theatrical trailer
  • 3 Cast/crew biographies

The Apartment

Madman Entertainment/AV Channel . R4 . COLOR . 112 mins . M15+ . PAL


As romance goes, Paris comes with a big rep. So thick with love is the air that a body could practically fall head over heels crossing the street. Unfortunately, even in Paris, few people ever actually meet the love of their life, let alone have any reasonable discourse with them. So when the arrow strikes and the woman in question owns a chic apartment in the city’s romantic heart, is beautiful beyond words and loves you just as much in return, you just know that something is bound to screw the whole thing up.

Max (Vincent Cassell) is a successful businessman who, on first sight of the exotic Lisa (Monica Bellucci), follows her through the winding streets of Paris to her apartment (this would be stalking were the protagonists not so damn charming) and in the finest tradition, the two become smitten. I don’t care how happy you, the viewer, are in your own life - I defy even the coldest bastard among you not to sigh wistfully as these two beautiful humans fall into each others' arms. Imagine the shock then (and there is a strange gratification in this also), when she disappears without even a goodbye. Two years later, when Max thinks he sees his former love in a telephone booth, he begins a manic search through the cafes and side streets of Paris in search of the truth and le femme.

Despite the seemingly simple plot, The Apartment delivers the goods with more style and flair than anything of its type that is likely to grace your screens all year. With each turn the plot takes, another question is posed and with each question that is answered, another two spring up in its place. As the story progresses, new characters are introduced and rather than acting as mere dialogue fodder, add further pieces to the rickety house of cards that is so masterfully constructed by writer and director, Gilles Mimouni. Not the least among them is the beguiling Alice (played by Romane Bohringer), who almost single-handedly steers the film from a quirky territory into one far more unsettling. As tempting as it is to explore the intricacies of the script further, it would be criminal of me, as a reviewer, to further risk giving away any clues as to the how the story plays out.

The look of the film, as much as the setting, helps to carry The Apartment’s style and mystery. Although not quite the idyllic and fantastic Paris of Jeunet’s Amelie, Mimouni serves us a city away from the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe and sets his drama against the cafés and sculptured streets of the city’s heart. Throughout the film, Mimouni play his cards close to his chest and while the narrative coasts along beautifully, the director uses every great mystery device in the book to reveal each piece of the puzzle while still maintaining the suspense.

When all is said and done, The Apartment is as seductive and as charming as the life it portrays and is delivered with all the grace of a skilled dancer. With its masterful storytelling and luscious setting, if The Apartment doesn’t hook you, it will at the very least make you yearn for a life more interesting than the one you have.



Despite The Apartment being an aesthetically stunning affair, the transfer is nothing extraordinary. Not that there is anything wrong with the picture quality, mind you, it is just that it falls below the levels of high-tech clarity that are more prevalent on some of the bigger budget releases. Still, when all is said and done, there is nothing to complain about. Given that The Apartment was seemingly shot on a modest budget, the picture quality is good indeed. The appeal of this film is in its style and the end result is that the transfer is serviceable to the end result and doesn’t detract from enjoyment of the film. Furthermore, the film is presented in anamorphic widescreen and is 16:9 enhanced, so if you have the right equipment you can still feast on the visuals as its maker intended.


Like any film that concerns suspense, The Apartment would have benefited greatly from Surround sound. Well, bad luck because we get none of that here, but the good news is that the Dolby Digital 2.0 track is rich enough to keep you hooked anyway. Since the soundtrack is presented in French, it is difficult for me to comment on synch and clarity, but for the most part the dialogue sounds clear enough. Other sounds featured throughout the film come across nicely with the moody score by Peter Chase often dominating the speakers and dousing the film and the viewer with the necessary atmosphere. Overall, this disc contains a serviceable transfer for a fine film.


As intricate as the film is, the extras contained on the disc are remarkably… er… unremarkable. There is a trailer for your viewing pleasure but, with nary a subtitle in sight, it serves as little more than a visual tease and an opportunity to brush up on your high school French. The disc also contains three static cast biographies, which, aside from shedding a little light on the careers of the film’s main players, provide little else. Cest la vie…


The Apartment is one of those rare modern animals that, through the art of storytelling and a cast of genuinely intriguing characters, manages to lure the viewer into its world and refuses to let go until the final credits. Seven years after the film’s release, The Apartment seems to have slipped under the radar and has so far avoided the dreaded, Hollywood remake.

Believe me, there would be nothing magic about watching someone like Tom Hanks walk the streets of Seattle in search of Meg Ryan...

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      And I quote...
    "A captivating tale of lies and l’amour in the City of Light…"
    - Peter O'Connor
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