Wednesday, April 7, 2021

A WOMAN LIKE EVE (1979) (Cult Epics Blu-ray Review)


Label: Cult Epics
Rating: Unrated 
Region: Region Free
Duration: 103 Minutes
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.66:1)
Audio: Dutch LPCM 2.0 Mono; Dutch DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono with Optional English Subtitles
Director: Nouchka van Brakel
Cast: Monique van de Ven, Maria Schneider, Peter Faber

In the late-70's LGBT melodrama A Woman Like Eve (1979) housewife Eve (Monique van de Ven, Amsterdamned) feels trapped in her marriage to husband Ad (Peter Faber) with whom she has two small children. Her unhappiness comes to a head when she suffers a breakdown at a family get together, after which her husband surprises her with a holiday to Southern France with her girlfriend Sonja (Marijke Merckens). It's there on a beach that Eve meets a young French woman named Liliane (Last Tango In Paris), a feminist folksinger who lives in a hippie commune, who opens Eve's eyes to not only 
feminist ideas but the potential of a woman to love another woman. 

When Eve returns home she is well-rested but not settled, she yearns for more personal fulfillment in her life. To her husband's ire she begins to make time for herself, learning French and organizing a woman's group that meets weekly at her apartment. While later attending a feminist festival she is reunited with a visiting Liliane who is performing at the festival. Eve surrenders to the attraction she feel for Liliane, in process fracturing her marriage, and then faced with the prospect of losing her kids in a bitter divorce proceeding. 

A Woman Like Eve (1979) is more a drama about a woman leaving her husband more than a erotic film, and if you're coming into it expecting Emmanuelle (1974) or some sort of  erotic male-fantasy you might be disappointed. The film has a solid dramatic core and a well-directed by Nouchka van Brakel (The Debut), offering a woman's sensibility in lieu of a male gaze. The sex we see is quite chaste, it's not erotic in the standard fashion, it's na├»ve and charming more than anything, as these women find love together, while also dealing with a crumbling marriage and the increasingly hostile divorce and custody battle.

I thought the film did good work threading the needle of an unhappy housewife exploring a new love while her marriage crumbles, initially painting neither Eve nor her husband as villains, just two people who are no longer in love and experiencing a difficult transition. Although Ad insists he is still quite in love with Eve he blows his stack a few times, airing the couple's dirty laundry at a family get together, and saying very unkind things about his former wife's sexual orientation and how that makes her unfit to be a mother. 

I enjoyed the troubled marriage and love story, but I do think the film starts to falls apart as we near the end, the court room custody battle bored me to tears to be honest, I was more into the conflicted feelings and emotional hurt the characters were experiencing, but the custody battle was a bit of a slog. That said, I think van de Ven does good work as the conflicted mother torn between her love for a woman and her family. Likewise I thought Faber was quite good as the husband, who initially seems to be a good guy, sending his wife on holiday and all, but as the melodrama unfolds and his frustrations and anger are exposed his performance becomes a bit much, certainly cringe in his stereotypically 70's straight-male way of thinking. 

Audio/Video: A Woman Like Eve (1979) makes it's HD debut on a dual-layered, region-free Blu-ray from distributor Cult Epics, this being a new HD scan sourced from a 35mm theatrical print.  The film grain looks course in the opening scenes which are dark and have poor contrast, but after the the first few minutes the image improve considerably. The brighter sunlit moments showcase healthy colors, pleasing detail and modest depth, and the skin tones are natural looking. Audio comes by way of original Dutch LPCM 2.0 Mono track or a new Dutch DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono track with optional English subtitles, everything is clean and well-balanced. The flick is also available from Cult Epics on standard definition DVD. 

Extras on the Blu-ray kick-off with a 39-minute interview with director Nouchka van Brakel by journalist Floortje Smit at Eye Filmmuseum recorded in 2020, plus we get a 4-minute gallery of stills, lobby cards, posters and promotional shots. The disc is buttoned up with 11-minutes of trailers for A Woman Like Eve, The Debut, The Cool Lakes of Death and Frank & Eva

The single-disc release arrives in a clear Viva Elite keepcase with a reversible sleeve of artwork featuring both the original theatrical artwork and a new design, the disc itself features the theatrical key art. Cult Epics were also running a website exclusive, offering a repro promo brochure available that was available to the first 100 pre-orders at, which I am sure are long gone by now. 


Special Features:
- New HD Transfer (from original 35mm print)
- Original LPCM 2.0 Mono Audio
- New DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono Audio (Blu-ray Only)
- Interview with Nouchka van Brakel by journalist Floortje Smit at Eye Filmmuseum HD 2020 (39 min)
- Poster & Photo Gallery (4 min) 
- Theatrical Trailer (3 min)
- Trailers: Frank & Eva (2 min), The Cool Lakes of Death (3 min), The Debut (3 min) 
- Limited Edition Packaging featuring Original & Newly Designed Art (Blu-ray Only)

While the film was not the erotic delight I was expecting it's a decent lesbian love-story/melodrama, but definitely more a melodrama than something that will get your pulse racing.  This is the first release of a trilogy of films that Cult Epics are releasing by director Nouchka van Brakel, next up is the Dutch Lolita film The Debut (1977) and The Cool Lakes of Death (1982), both which look to be more my cup of tea. 

Screenshots from the Blu-ray: