Directed by: Steve Jacobs
Starring: John Malkovich, Jessica Haines, Eric Ebouaney
There is a lot going on in this movie and like all good art different people are going to see different things. I saw a study of predertors and prey, of dominance and submission, a primer in victimization and how it can become a life style.
David Lurie, John Malkovich, is a Professor of romantic poetry, a womanizer and a narciccist. When he starts to get to personal with the prostitute he frequents on a weekly basis she gives him the brush off. Being a Professor, a womanizer and a narciccist it’s only natural that his eye starts to wander about campus. His eye settles on Melanie a beautiful young woman and one of his students. Soon they are having sex even though Melanie never shows any enthusiasm for the relationship. The affair doesn’t stay secret for long and an unrepentant David is forced to resign.
With nothing holding him in Cape Town anymore David heads into the country to visit his estranged daughter, Lucy, played by Jessica Haines. She is ekeing out a living on a truck farm nestled in a stunning valley outside of Grahamstown. Helping her out and living in the stables until he can get another grant to build a house is Petrus, Eric Ebouaney. From the beginning David distrusts Petrus, suspicious of his, to David at least, easy familiarity around Lucy’s home. David settles into his new life quickly, and seems to be as content as someone of his nature can be, but when returning from a walk with Lucy, three young men are waiting outside the house. The claim that there has been an accident; and they need to use the phone, exercising caution Lucy instructs two of the teenagers to remain outside and invites the third inside to use the phone. David turns his back on the two left outside as his gaze follows his daughter entering the house. Suddenly one of the young men tackles David and rushes into the house. Bad things happen.
Okay I”ve explained a little bit of what happens in the film, but that doesn’t really give you any clue what it’s about. As I listened to the interviews with the filmakers and actors I began to wonder if they were talking about the same movie. In a way this movie is a mirror reflecting the viewer’s prejudices, which is interesting in that one of the backdrops of the movie is racial tension in South Africa. As a viewer you can’t help but try to place the story in the context of South Africa’s history, but as the story unfolds what the characters do is much more interesting than the color of their skin. Of course you are likely to get something completley different out of this movie, but if you don’t find yourself challenged and scratching your head a bit at the end of this movie your braindead.
Adding to the story is great acting, outstanding cinematopgraphy, and a beautifully haunting score. South Africa is absolutely stunning in this movie. The landscape truly becomes a part of the cast. Indeed, the central conflict of the movie rests on this little bit of South Africa being beauiful enough to sacrifice evrything for. It’s not just the landscapes though. There are several clever bits of storytelling done by the camera, but it never gets clumsy, never gets in the way. There is one depth of field trick that I am still scraching my head over, I will be crushed if I find out it was done in post. The score is mesmerizing setting the mood perfectly in every scene.
The movie is presented in wide sceeen format. The color palette is vibrant but not overly saturated. The skintones are natural and I never noticed any blooming. Shadows progress nicely from grey to black. There is not any noticible aliasing and I never noticed any moire or other compression artifacts, an excellent transfer of a great movie.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 in English with English and Spanish subtitles. The mix is excellent. The score is up front but it never steps on the dialog, some of the foley is a little clichéd but it never rises to the level of being obtrusive. I never noticed any distortion or any other problems with the audio.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The DVD comes in a standard Amaray style case. The artwork is rather uninspired and the copy gets caught up with what happens instead of what the movie is about. The menus are striking, but easy to navigate. There are no commentaries but there are several interviews and a making of featurette. Unfortunately, while not bad these are nowhere near the quality of the actual movie.
While this release is a little shy on the bonus a material that’s its only flaw. This is a beautiful, thought provoking movie. I don’t think you will be disappointed.
Overall (Not an Average)9/10
The Movie 10/10
The Video 9/10
The Audio 8/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 6/10
Overall (Not an Average) 9/10