The Past Blu-ray Review

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Thoughtful and familiar, intimate and authentic

by Casimir Harlow Jun 13, 2014 at 1:53 PM

  • Movies review


    The Past Blu-ray Review
    SRP: £19.99

    The Past Blu-ray Review

    Iranian Writer/Director Asghar Farhadi – whose stunning A Separation, became the first Iranian film to win an Oscar – follows it up with his sixth feature, The Past, a French-Italian-Iranian production.

    With a sharp eye for natural relationships and family friction – as well as acute observation on dissolving marriages and dormant feelings – Farhadi knows this particularly playground well, trading in characters which feel like very real entities, and capturing the interactions therein with stunning precision. He elicits powerful performances from his cast members, dominated not by grandstanding furore but nuanced flourishes and sheer, raw honesty. The Past is certainly no exception, trading in a trio of lead adult performances – a past husband played excellently by Ali Mosaffa, a future husband rendered in a more reserved fashion by Tamir Rahim, and the woman caught in limbo in-between, The Artist’s Berenice Bejo – as well as a trio of excellent younger contributions.
    Ultimately, though, The Past is not quite as accomplished as his last feature, A Separation, and suffers from comparison. Perhaps it is the more-familiar French setting, which dilutes the atypical cultural environment previously at the core of his Iran-based features; perhaps it is because the story he is trying to tell is simply too grand and convoluted to maintain the same level of precision focus – his narrative shifts from character to character a little too jarringly, riding from the relationship between the two exes to the relationship with the teen daughter to the mystery surrounding the comatose wife with a little too much wild abandon, losing the viewer somewhat along the way. It is worth seeing for the performances alone, and boasts the same intimate family study that Farhadi is known for, but it is not the near-perfect entity that was A Separation, and it is impossible to avoid that comparison.

    What is The Past Blu-ray Picture Quality

    The Past What is The Past Blu-ray Picture Quality
    The Past hits UK Region B-locked Blu-ray complete with a stunning 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen. Detail is impressive throughout, with meticulous observation of skin textures, clothing weaves and background flourishes, all of which are disseminated with the utmost authenticity but also a nice cinematic edge, both making you feel like you are watching a movie, and real life.

    With neither the budget, scale or sheen of most typical demo titles, The Past still delivers an authentic and no less cinematic alternative.

    The image is utterly devoid of digital damage; with no signs of edge enhancement, excessive DNR application, banding, blocking or other anomalies. There’s absolutely no softness; the picture retaining clarity and focus throughout, given a wonderful sheen of suitably filmic grain.

    The colour scheme trades in natural tones emanating from a real environment, with few strong primaries and instead authentic greens and browns, with plenty of pastel tones and off-white paint colours. Skin tones are healthy and realistic, whilst black levels remain strong, deep and rich throughout, allowing for excellent shadow detail. Perhaps it’s not conventional demo material, but The Past still deserves an according score.

    How Does The Past Blu-ray Sound

    The Past How Does The Past Blu-ray Sound
    The audio track is almost as impressive, presenting the movie in its original French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 flavour, and delivering a surprisingly rich and atmospheric mix that crafts a warms and acutely observed environment within which the drama can unfold. Dialogue is presented clearly and with priority across the fronts and centre channels, pervading the piece, as is only understandable given that this is undoubtedly a dialogue-driven feature.

    Again, whilst not the kind of material normally given a demo score, the well-nuanced track is precise, atmospheric and just as impressive.

    Effects are keenly observed and rendered across the soundscape, fully utilising the surrounds to craft an authentic rendition of the environmental sounds, from car noises and bustling streets to a crowded airport or a busy bar/cafe. Each and every setting is given its own natural buzz, with even the family home having a warm but fragile sound to it, and the outdoor sequences coming to life with the kinds of background touches that only further embellish the rich layers of the honest drama. The music is similarly well utilised, frequently downplayed and never invasive. It’s a very satisfying mix which perfectly suits the material.

    The Past Blu-ray Extras

    It’s a shame that Artificial Eye’s Region B-locked Blu-ray release of The Past loses out to its US counterpart which came courtesy of Sony, stripped of the Writer/Director Commentary and the hefty 45-minute Writer/Director Q & A, and instead boasting just a Making-Of Featurette, some Cast & Crew Interviews and the Theatrical Trailer.

    Is The Past Blu-ray Worth Buying

    The Past Is The Past Blu-ray Worth Buying
    The Past is the powerful follow-up to acclaimed Iranian director Ashgar Farhadi's masterpiece, A Separation, following suit with its dissection of family struggle and relationship dissolution within a very real environment. Although not quite as perfect as that last effort, The Past is still an impressive offering boasting strong performances, rich authenticity and keen insight.

    For those who enjoyed A Separation, this is a must-see. For those who haven't, let that superior movie be your first port of call.

    This Region B-locked UK Blu-ray boasts stunning video and audio, but loses out on the extras front when compared to its preceding US counterpart, which is a shame considering that this would otherwise pretty-much be a blind buy for those who enjoyed Farhadi's other features.

    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99

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