Blu-ray Review: A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy - Twilight Time Limited Edition

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Woody Allen fans can celebrate once again as Twilight Time brings another of his films to Blu-ray for the first time. The boutique label has already issued Love and Death, Broadway Danny Rose, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Radio Days, and Crimes and Misdemeanors. Now they add A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy to their Limited Edition series (only 3,000 copies issued of each title). This 1982 entry in Allen's filmography is an admittedly very minor work, but the ensemble cast and unusual turn-of-the-(twentieth)-century setting help ensure that it remains endearingly entertaining.

This was Mia Farrow's first Allen film (for which she received, somewhat inexplicably, a Razzie nomination for Worst Actress). She plays half of one of the three couples who convene for a countryside getaway at an enchanted farm house. The whimsical mixture of Shakespeare and Ingmar Bergman found in Midsummer stands in stark contrast to Allen's previous film, the self-referentially sardonic Stardust Memories. Ariel (Farrow) is engaged to philosophy professor, Leopold (Jose Ferrer), who believes only in what can be physically proven. She has a nearly (but not quite) romantic past with Andrew (Allen), an inventor prone to flights of fancy.

Midsummer Nights Sex Comedy 2 (380x258).jpgAndrew and his wife Adrian (Mary Steenburgen) are the couple hosting the midsummer getaway. Adrian struggles with frigidity and is mortified to learn that her husband has hid his true feelings for Ariel after claiming to have barely known her. Meanwhile, Andrew’s friend Maxwell (Tony Roberts) has brought his casual fling Dulcy (Julie Hagerty) to the farm house. Maxwell is a womanizing dentist with no desires to get serious about any given woman. Dulcy is his flighty assistant and she's no more interested in a serious relationship with Maxwell than he is with her.

It's all about 'who is really destined to be with whom' as the three couples deal with their problems while discovering things about their own wants and needs. Midsummer, it almost goes without saying, is Allen slightest work of the early '80s (maybe of the entire decade). The whole thing feels a bit unfocused, as if Allen wanted to rush out something frothy to counteract the polarizing effect of Stardust Memories two years earlier. Probably not, but it does feel like for whatever reasons, Allen was not fully emotionally vested in this one. It certainly has its share of fun moments, however, and the overall pastoral milieu provides a refreshing change of pace.
Midsummer Nights Sex Comedy 3 (380x257).jpgThough not a staggeringly awesome visual presentation, Twilight Time's A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy offers a significant upgrade over the old MGM DVD edition. The transfer is afflicted by print flaws, suggesting that a full restoration would give Midsummer a night-and-day type of improvement. But make no mistake, Woody Allen fans should be generally happy to have this looking as good as it does, much better than any previous home video incarnation. The DTS-HD MA mono soundtrack is a typically straightforward, dialogue-driven affair, as per usual for Allen's films, but it presents no problems.

No surprise to see an exceedingly light roster of extras, considering this is a Woody Allen film. We get one of Twilight Time's customary isolated score tracks as well as the film's theatrical trailer. Julie Kirgo wrote another of her typically excellent essays for the Blu-ray booklet. Remember, this is a limited edition Blu-ray so if you're interested you should proceed to Screen Archives, the official distributor of Twilight Time releases.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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