In contemporary New York City, a young man named Edge breaks into an old woman’sapartment. Far from helpless, she wallops him and, at gunpoint, forces him to listen to her tale.She wants him to bury her where she was born. Her story is of two brothers at the start of the 20thCentury: the violent Luke (David Wenham) and the religious Elijah (Joseph Fiennes). A fightover a woman leads Luke to leave the States, and he winds up in Macedonia, a member of aviolent gang of …utlaws at odds with the Turkish forces of the Ottoman Empire. The film jumpsback and forth between this tale and events in New York, where Edge desperately needs moneyto save his skin from a pair of brutally corrupt police officers. Both he and Luke slowly movetowards redemption, and this narrative arc is intertwined with playful considerations about thenature of storytelling and mythmaking. Along the way, there are plenty of scenes of quiteextraordinary violence. Sam Peckinpah would approve of these gunbattles, and you canpractically smell the carrion. A heady, most intriguing concoction.
The sound is 2.0, but the mix is still pretty impressive. The dialogue is clear and distortion-free (though you will want to engage the subtitles, at least part of the time, as there’s a fairamount of non-English dialogue). The sound effects are very good good, with some solid left-right separation, and a pretty thorough sense of environment, what with all the bullets whizzingby over your head.
The film transitions from gritty colours in New York, to silvery black-and-white in the ruralStates, to bright colours in Macedonia, and the transfer captures all of this quite nicely. Some ofthe New York night scenes are a bit grainy, but the blacks are always solid and there is nobleaching out of these sequences. The aspect is 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen.
Apart from trailers for Dust, Frank and Jesse and South of Heaven, Westof Hell (triggered by selecting the Lions Gate logo), the only extra is a brief Making-offeaturette. Though pretty standard stuff, it is interesting for director Milcho Manchevski’sdiscussion of what he was setting out to achieve. The menu is fully animated, but silent.
This won’t be for all tastes, and some might find the work pretentious. I liked it, finding ita fascinating mix of smarts and ultra-violence.
Special Features List
- Making-of Featurette