The Movie Waffler Blu-Ray Review - EVE | The Movie Waffler

Blu-Ray Review - EVE

eve 1962 review
An English writer falls for a mysterious French woman.

Review by Jason Abbey

Directed by: Joseph Losey

Starring: Jeanne Moreau, Stanley Baker, Virna Lisi, James Villiers, Riccardo Garrone, Lisa Gastoni

eve 1962 bluray

Eve is a film that leaves you unbalanced and uncertain; there is just something slightly off about it. 10 minutes in and you can understand why it was so disliked and dishonoured at the time of release. Take Stanley Baker as Tyvian Jones, a writer of the angry young men school whose literary success has now been translated into a film. The character should be brooding, masculine and opinionated, a role crying out for a young Richard Burton. Instead there is something weak and petulant in Baker's performance that is off-putting. Then it all starts to make sense. This is a film about performance and acting, romance as both masquerade and charade, a relationship that plays like a hostage negotiation.

eve 1962 review

Leaving the after party celebrating the premiere of his book to film, Tyvian returns to his secluded house in Venice. In a none more '60s turn of events, an older man and his French Courtesan Eva (Jeanne Moreau) seek shelter from a downpour (and presumably a place to fuck) by breaking into said house. By the time Tyvian arrives home, jazz records have been rifled through, a bath has been drawn and the drinks cabinet is getting a seeing to. Rather than call the Carabinieri, Tyvian is a slightly more gracious host (until he eyes up Eva) before changing his mind and throwing out Eva’s punter so that Tyvian can make his move on her instead.

What follows is a battle of wits between two of the most unlikeable protagonists in film history. Tyvian seems to have it all, a burgeoning career as a novelist, a fiancée, Francesca (Virna Lisi), who dotes on him, and some pads in the swankiest part of Italy. Francesca works for the producer of Tyvian’s film and it is his mistreatment of her that proves his undoing, evoking mistrust for his lack of fidelity and the truthfulness of his angry young man persona.

eve 1962 review

Eva and Tyvian don’t conduct what you would call a typical affair; this is more seduction as performance. She confesses to being abused as a child then laughs it off as a lie. He is prone to uttering statements that haven’t aged particularly well like "I love all women from six to 60" to excuse his urges. Eva keeps Tyvian in a state of unconsummated excitement (locking him out when he escorts her to his flat or whipping him with a riding crop that hints at a BDSM side to their lust) that is reminiscent of Dr Hfuhruhurr in The Man with Two Brains. You can tell the relationship is unhealthy because he goes from a teetotaller to a binge drinking lush during the course of their relationship (or a lapsed alcoholic, it’s never clear). Tyvian’s lie is revealed and the weakness of Baker's performance begins to make sense.

At the time of release, Moreau’s performance faced a lot of criticism as an archetypal femme fatale with no nuance. That she is an unlikeable bad girl is not in doubt, but it feels more like armour. She seems both repelled by her own sexuality and the ease with which it ensnares men. She is actively hostile to Tyvian, but it does not seem to put him or any of the other men in her life off. The confession of abuse may be more than a glib lie to shock her paramour. She may be vicious but she seems honest, a profoundly damaged woman who controls men and meretricious trinkets as the only vestige of power in a deck that is resolutely stacked in favour of men.

eve 1962 review

As a battle of wits it is fabulous, but Losey lacks focus. There are a few too many ancillary characters, including an ex-pat writer, that are unnecessary, and a few contrivances that see Tyvian abandoning a wedding to be with Eva that have the ring of farce rather than lust. Francesca looks the part as his fiancée, but we are never convinced by the relationship - it feels more like a casual flirtation with a secretary rather than a doomed romance. As a 90-minute bilious, blackly comic drama, this could have been an unheralded classic. There is very little of La Dolce Vita in this acerbic drama that boasts one of the most splenetic couples in cinema history, but there is plenty to enjoy in a film that if not quite an unheralded masterpiece, is still far greater than its reputation would have you believe.

This special edition comes with three versions of the film. The longest is a restoration based on Losey’s notes and other comments that is the closest to the director's original vision. There is also a truncated European release and the alternative US release under the name 'The Devil’s Woman'.

Losey discusses Eve in an excerpt from the French television programme Cinéma.

A short interview of Moreau in conversation with actor France Roche.

The most substantial extra is an archival audio recording with Reginald Beck, the editor of Eve, made as part of the British Entertainment History Project in conversation with Alan Lawson.

An interview with filmmaker Gavrik Losey, son of Joseph Losey.

An appreciation by author and film historian Neil Sinyard.

A video comparison of the differences between the various versions of the film.

The standard image gallery: publicity and promotional material as well as UK and French theatrical trailers.

This limited edition comes with a booklet featuring a new essay by Phuong Le, Joseph Losey on Eve, a look at the James Hadley Chase source novel, an overview of contemporary critical responses, Simona Monizza on the Eye Filmmuseum restoration of Eve.

For a film that noticeably bombed on release this is a very thorough collection of extras and hopefully goes somewhere to restoring the reputation of this undervalued work in the Losey canon.

Eve is on UK blu-ray now from Powerhouse Films.