If George Orwell and Franz Kafka had collaborated on a murder mystery, what you’d getis The Rook. A theocratic dictatorship is coming apart at the seams as an uprising gathersevery more force. In this trouble time, a detective working for the religious authorities comesto a small town to investigate a murder. Nothing is what it seems, and he is confronted with onemysterious character after another, one mysterious event after another. Like the regime, hegradually begi…s to crack apart.
The resolution of the mystery is a little disappointing, in that we’ve been down that roadbefore. But the eerie, off-kilter atmosphere of the film more than makes up for it. This is a wildlyanachronistic world, where people travel by horse and carriage, but use telephones, and deal withcomputers dreamed up by a Victorian lunatic. Director Eran Palatnik credits 1984 as themajor influence on The Rook’s look, and he is right to do so. But on a minuscule budget,The Rook forges an identity of its own, and convincingly creates a complete, andcompletely bizarre, world.
The sound is a rather unfortunately harsh 2.0. The various industrial clangings are nicelyrendered, contributing no end to the film’s feel. Some effect are too strong, however, andinappropriately surround. There is a fair bit sibilance, with the narration particularly bad as it alsoveers into surround.
The movie looks so interesting one can’t help but wish the transfer was better. But it’s softand sometimes grainy, there are occasional speckles, and the widescreen isn’t anamorphic. Theblacks aren’t always as deep as they should be, being close to brown at times. I’ve certainly seenworse, but this is far from stellar.
There is no commentary, but there is a 20-minute interview with director Eran Palatnikwhich covers many of the likely questions a viewer would have. There is also the trailer (withtruly awful sound), a still gallery, and bios of Palatnik and leads Martin Donovan and John A.MacKay. The menu is basic.
The director says this is a movie about process and questions, not resolutions. Take the filmin this spirit, and you should be in for a neat little discovery.
Special Features List
- Interview with Director
- Still Gallery