Guilty of Romance Blu-ray Review
Guilty of Romance comes to UK Blu-ray courtesy of Eureka with a 1080p resolution, encoded with the
AVCcoded and framed within a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The disc itself is locked to Region B.
The colour palette ranges from shockingly garish to tempered luridness – subtle understatement not being the order of the day given the subject matter and the red light district that forms the crux of the proceedings. The transfer holds these disparate hues of vividity together quite well, no signs of obvious bleed for the majority of the time. One scene's lighting proves a bit of a bridge too far though and there are a few edges that suffer and the starts of posterization. When tackling the colours head on, in sufficient diffused light the contrast is pretty punchy, but interior scenes suffer a little from being washed out, as a by-product the detail in the shadows can be patchy. Close-ups in low light can show surprising detail though, the title shot of a mannequin's face with hair strewn against its damp surface, dappled in neon light is one such example.
Delineation is good particularly considering, even with Sono's success, he isn't making titles with grand budgets and the less well off examples of Japanese film-making in recent years have tended to highlight their roots on Blu-ray with softness. There seems to be a hint of sharpening, and black against white shows minor aliasing, but natural substances such as hair navigate the potential pitfalls of crushing without noticeable problems.
Some blooming in strong light is seen, daylight exterior shots are sometimes a touch soft and one scene higlights noise but the general air is that of a fairly accomplished, passable image. Sharp enough to make the Blu-ray a sound choice and visually striking in terms of lighting but without serious issue.
One audio track – Japanese LPCM 2.0
There's not much to really highlight or criticise about this track, as it does what any reasonable stereo offering should and holds its ground there. It doesn't delight nor does it spoil the viewing, it sits in that comfortable middle ground of being indistinct – a case of glass half empty or glass half full. Personally, I find myself falling towards the latter camp. The music shows enough range to be reasonably engaging without ever hitting the type of nerve-tingling crescendos in either volume or crisp pitch that might make this a standout track.
The atmospheric effects layer nicely in with the score, rain falling, the general sounds one would expect from modern urban environments, though often too few in number to make a real impact. There is not a plethora to overwhelm the job the speakers are otherwise tasked with, but they add a fine fabric of reality to the soundscape. There are some little flourishes, gentle swirlings indicating the unfathomed depths of emotions, but these are subtle and low.
The speech is coherent, rounded and quite sharp, with perhaps a tendency to dwell or be cutting in pitch rather than sitting mellifluously, occasionally falling low. It is a 2.0 track that performs perfunctorily.
Film critic and festival curator Jasper Sharp gives his views about the film. He imparts a good degree of background on the film and Sono and his bookish style is nice, it isn't often you hear the phrase “amply bosomed” when describing an actress. Unfortunately, as with any commentary track where the defining artistic figures aren't involved, it is predisposed to wander and fill with less than revealing or gripping information.
Interview with Megumi Kagurazaka – 1080i - 38:01
An interview that lasts almost 40 minutes, and should be entitled “everything you ever wanted to know about Megumi Kagurazaka”. How she got into acting, how she got involved with Sono, her experiences, thoughts on the film and the like are all covered.
UK Theatrical Trailer – 1080p – 2:02
Guilty of Romance is a tangled mess of a film, which starts out as a possibly thoughtful piece about the roles of the female middle class in Japan, set against a mystery background, and descends into madness, from studied (yet laboriously obvious) exploration to lurid exploitation. It flings itself foursquare at questions about sexual liberation but only glances off any meaningful points, careering headlong into a murky mess of insanity and preposterous, positively pretentious wordplay. Literary references don't suddenly make a plot intelligent and the poetry becomes repeated to the point you may question your own sanity, until the inference is made that it may finally have meaning, but it doesn't. Aiming for resonance, but hitting annoyance.
The Region B locked disc is functional, but rarely sways from the middle ground of being adequate. The image is capable but can be washed out, whilst the audio is crisp and clear for the vast majority, but the score fails to make an impact in the manner it should. The extras are low in number, but the frankly extensive nigh-on forty minute interview with the lead actress and the commentary should give enough meat for fans to get their teeth into.
Guilty of Romance is as confused as its characters, and ultimately has even less to actually say.
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