The Lover (1992) | 4K Blu-ray Review


Based on the autobiographical works of Marguerite Duras, The Lover (L’Amant) certainly made a stir in the early 1990s, primarily for it’s depiction of sex between a man and a teenage girl, but also for its beautiful, deservedly praised, cinematography. So let’s dive in and see how it’s first trip to the Ultra HD format does to honor the latter.


If after checking out the review, you decide to pick it up, you can find it here*: Buy it here!

The Lover (L’Amant) 4K Blu-ray cover art

Tech Specs:

Format(s):UltraHD/4K Blu-ray (BD-100)
Blu-ray (BD-50)
Released By:MPI Media Group
Release Date:January 25th, 2022
Video Format / Codec:4K: H.265 (HEVC)
BR: MPEG-4 (AVC)
Resolution:4K: Native 4K, 2160/24p
BR: Full HD, 1080/24p
Digital Intermediate (DI):4K (from negatives)
High-Dynamic Range (HDR):Dolby Vision (MEL), HDR10+, HDR10
Aspect Ratio:1.85:1
Audio Format(s):English (4K/BR):
DTS-HD MA 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)

Additional tracks available in French and German.
Subtitles:English, French, German
Packaging:Dual-disc Digibook
Region Coding:4K: Region-free
BR: Region A (locked)

Video Review:

Right out of the gate, as I know some who are interested will ask, this is the same 4K disc containing the unrated 115 minute cut released by Capelight pictures in Germany at the same time, showing the close relationship between MPI and said company in the production of this release for the two markets. On that 4K disc we find a beautifully remastered image coming from the same transfer from the 2015 Blu-ray release in France. There is a ton of fine detail and refinement to the image with closeups of skin and hair, costumes, environments and props all looking very natural, organic and revealing. Whether it be the texturally soft skin of The Girl, or the surface textures of the buildings, or the coarse look of sand and dirt, the image presentation does a great job of pulling out detail, especially in those well-lit daytime scenes. In the darker scenes, likely due to choice of film stock and equipment, the image is a bit softer, but I would not call it truly soft. There is film grain throughout the movie, but the grain itself is fairly light, organic and less noticeable in those daylight scenes, with the darker interior and nighttime scenes seeing much more defined and heavy grain. While the grain does still look natural and not blotchy, it also is a bit elevated in its presentation in those scenes, partly due to filmstock, but also due to the handling of contrast and brightness.

On that note, this disc does come with all three standard flavors of HDR. I did not observe a major difference between the HDR10 and Dolby Vision (and I would imagine for the HDR10+ for those who have it), although I will say the latter was possibly just a bit more refined in its handling of the extremes of light and dark, but nothing I would highlight as a major loss if your system does not support dynamic metadata of the format. The daytime scenes and the architectural style of the French Indochina locale presents with a bright authority, vibrant, but natural colors and very smooth gradations of colors, especially in those blue skies. On the darker end of the spectrum, the interior scenes are intentionally very dim given oft candlelit light sources and the cinematic choices of the production team. That said, blacks do get inky, with shadows diving down deep without much observable crush. In terms of the overall color grade, while this does come from the same 4K transfer of the 2015 Blu-ray, the color grade is much more natural, with a far less yellow hue to the overall picture.

The included Blu-ray is also quite good and comes from the same remastering work. It does not quite live up to qualities of the 4K disc, but it’s still a very good viewing experience.

Video Score (4K): 4.6 / 5 (Excellent)

Video Score (BR): 4.4 / 5 (Very Good)

Audio Review:

Both discs contain 3 audio tracks, with English and French getting a DTS-HD MA track in 5.1 Surround and a separate German dub in uncompressed LPCM 2.0 (again a nod to it being the same as the Capelight release). Both the English and French tracks have very similar qualities in terms of clarity and presence of sound making for an enjoyable audio experience. The use of surrounds is primarily optimized for ambiance, but its still a fairly front heavy affair. The bass is present, but the film itself does not warrant a bombastic, room shaking presentation and so it mostly ensures a fullness of sound for dialog and musical score. Where the English and French tracks diverge is on their overall gain. The English track is a bit quieter than I would have expected, and the French track is much louder than I expected. Something in between would have been just perfect. Given I would most often be watching this in the original English audio, I’m happy enough to have to bump up the volume a few decibels.

Audio Score (4K/BR): 4.0 / 5 (Good)

Special Features and Packaging:

Special features are solid, but not incredibly abundant. We have a few photo galleries, an interview with Marguerite Duras and the director, Jean-Jacques Annaud, some deleted scenes (un-released scenes as they are called here), a brief featurette and some trailers. It’s a nice selection and certainly more than we would get on most major label release but the dearth and depth of content is not quite up there with a premium or limited edition release.

For packaging, MPI decided for a digibook style of presentation with a nicely presented exterior with Jane March’s “The Girl” on the front and the couple on the rear. It has a great tactile feel to the canvas exterior. The interior comes with the two discs each with disc art meant to have it blend with the background photograph of the interior of the book and a dozen or so pages of images, essays and more filling in the middle. It should be noted that the package itself is taller than most standard Blu-ray cases and fits more closely towards that of a DVD case, so it will stick up a bit when next to your other Blu-rays on the shelf.

Features Score: 3.9 / 5 (Good)

Buy/Upgrade-worthiness:

If you enjoy  this film and its cinematography, this is the best way to see it. It outclasses the 2015 Blu-ray with its more natural color palette and more revealing levels of detail. That said, it is not entirely cheap sitting in the upper $20s. I would imagine this will not see a significant price drop given the nicer packaging and smaller label doing the release, so if you do want it, it may be worth picking up sooner rather than hoping for a bigger price drop which may not come. That said, if you are tight on budget this may see a bit more affordable price in select sales.


Buy/Upgrade Recommendation: Yes!

If after checking out the review, you decide to pick it up, you can find it here*: Buy it here!

Summary and Overall Scores:

Overall, this was a great presentation of the movie. While not reference quality, the disc is very good on many fronts, with a great looking picture, solid audio and a nice selection of extras. For fans of the movie this is a worthwhile pickup.

Experience Score**: 4.3 / 5  (Very Good)

** Experience score does not take into account the quality of the film itself, just the technical presentation, packaging and included features.

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