Emmanuel Xuereb plays Gabe, a man whose dying wife has left him for his best friend. (The psychiatric term for this situation is “bummer.”) His mourning takes the form of attempting to seduce women he doesn’t know, and he beings a relationship with Irene (Charis Michelsen), married but bored with her unimaginative husband. Irene is initially thrown when it turns out that Gabe is breaking into the homes where their encounters occur, but soon she is a willing participant in this game.
< ...>Xuereb is very strong in the lead, and this is a film that has serious ideas on its mind. The trouble is that it also wears these ideas on its sleeve, and the dialogue tends to have a few too many overt disquisitions on life, death, and the meaning of it all, in a way that sounds far too scripted. But at least the movie IS about real ideas, and is worth checking out. It also has had a curious history, about which more later.
The audio is limited to 2.0, but viewers won’t be missing the absence of 5.1. This is an extremely quiet film, with long periods of near total silence. The rear speakers have no presence to speak of, and the overall volume level is very, very low (too much so, in fact). That said, the (softly spoken) dialogue is free of distortion, but I did find myself rewinding several times, unable to catch what had just been said.
This is another low-budget film, so miracles shouldn’t be expected. That said, the 2.35:1 non-anamorphic transfer could be better. The colours are decent, and the blacks are good, and the image is reasonably sharp. The grain, though, is very noticeable. It, however, isn’t nearly as bad as the aliasing, which is terrible, and the shimmer is pretty distracting as well. There are times when one half-expects the picture to break up completely.
The commentary is not a director’s one, despite what the case promises. Instead, Xuereb is joined by the director of the making-of documentary. Their discussion is a good one, and quite helpful too for viewers who might be confused by the rather film’s sometimes rather cryptic approach. “The Red Hat” is the aforementioned making-of documentary, and unlike the usual fare, it stands as a legitimate, serious piece in and of itself, covering the film’s unusual development (it morphed into a rather different film in post-production) and the tragic circumstances that surrounded it: the DP was director Ann Lu’s husband. They split up over the course of the film, and he died shortly after photography wrapped. “Journey of the Heart” is then Lu’s journal of the making of the film, accompanied by rather boring shots of beaches. Cast and crew interviews are joined by three deleted scenes and a still gallery. After a very long intro and transitions, the menu is otherwise basic.
An interesting, if too self-consciously thoughtful, film, with an equally fascinating backstory. Rough transfer, though.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- “The Red Hat” Making-of Documentary
- Director’s Journal
- Deleted Scenes
- Still Gallery
- Cast and Crew Interviews