This is a short (69 minutes), quite elliptical film that traces the arc of a relationship between a young man (Kieran O’Brien) and woman (the pseudonymous Margo Stilley). We see individual moments, usually framed around episodes of lovemaking, and in between we see our couple at rock concerts (and so we get, in their entirety, performances by the likes of Primal Scream, Super Furry Animals and Franz Ferdinand). The whole story is a flashback, with O’Brien in the present, post-relationship, r…flecting on it while he does research in Antarctica.
So yes, the sex is very explicit (hardcore for all intents and purposes), but it doesn’t feel exploitive: it is instead a real expression of the relationship between the two characters. On the other hand, the storytelling is so fragmentary that the film feels a bit inert, and the Antarctic scenes feel rather unnecessary. It is as if Winterbottom didn’t fully trust the strength of his primary material, and felt it necessary to tack on this pretentious musings to give the film more weight. Perhaps he was right. The fact remains that there isn’t much more plot here than in an actual porn film, though considerably more effort has gone into making the relationship seem real.
The sound comes ib both DTS and 5.1 versions. There isn’t a huge difference between the two, though the DTS version is a bit richer and has a stronger bass line coming from the rear speakers. All of these comments apply to the music performances. The rest of the time, the film is very quiet, and the dialogue sounds the same in either version. At any rate, the rock songs sound great, and the volume level is very high.
The aspect ratio is 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Compared to most other recent theatrcial releases, the picture might seem a bit rough: there is noticeable pixelation, particularly in the darker sequences, but also in the Antarctic ones. The concert footage can be pretty grainy, too. But it should be born in mind that the film was shot on DV, and so many of these limitations aren’t necessarily problems with the transfer. The flesh tones are good, and the interior sequences are nicely sharp.
There are three interviews here, with the director and the two leads. Their discussions are frank and thoughtful. No commentary, though. The other extras, beyond trailers and a still gallery, are music related. One can watch the film seeing only the concert footage, and there are four music videos, plus an interview with the group Elbow. The menu’s main screen and transitions are animated and scored.
Back in the 70s, there was hope that serious films with actual sex might well be made. Here is just such a beast. It’s a provocative work, but nowhere near as much of a kick as the diretor’s 24 Hour Party People.
Special Features List
- Director and Cast Interviews
- Concert-Performance-Only Option
- Music Videos
- Band Interview