Two Lovers Blu-ray Review
PictureTwo Lovers comes to Blu-ray presented with a solid 1080p High Definition video rendition in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen. Detail is generally pretty good, with little noticeable grain, only fleeting glimpses of noise, no delineation, and no haloing or noteworthy edge enhancement. Whether the setting is indoor or outdoor, the detail is maintained well and the picture largely looks good. I even noticed a few moments of 3D pop. Oddly, however, the image falls down somewhat during some of the location shots (it is difficult to tell whether they are even location shots or just green-screen sequences), the skin tones looking wrong and the image looking distinctly artificial. It is a shame, as they largely seem at odds with the rest of the film, almost like some attempt at style was made but ended badly due to a lack of budget or processing. Either way, it does not look as good as it should. Blacks remain solid, however, and the picture is not particularly objectionable - it really is a perfectly decent offering, it is just not perhaps as good as it could or should have been on this format.
SoundTo accompany the movie's perfectly acceptable video presentation we get a very low-key DTS-HD Master Audio track that cannot possibly hope to show off the potential of the High Definition audio format. Dialogue is muffled at best, and because of the way the track is balanced, the few noisy music moments have you grabbing for the volume control because they blast out at a totally uneven level. Phoenix is almost impossible to comprehend, which might be in line with the character but can become just plain irritating after a while, and it is a shame that such a dialogue-based movie has the dialogue presented in such a muffled fashion. The effects are minimalistic, a few generic restaurant hubbub noises and some street bustle but nothing to spark any significant life into the surrounds, and the score is practically non-existent - a few song tracks, a dash of opera, some background music from the various scene locations and little sign of any significant musical cues. Bass? You came to the wrong place. This may well be a great format, but it cannot improve upon such a restrained, shy track that resists flourishing in any respect whatsoever.
ExtrasIn terms of extras we get a nice little selection, really nothing more - or less - than you would expect from this kind of fairly low-key release, but nice that they bothered nonetheless. The Audio Commentary is provided by Director James Gray who is as informative and enthusiastic as ever about his movie, giving up all of the technical detail into how he got this production made and background trivia into the process. Fans will enjoy it. The two Featurettes are fairly redundant, short, fluffy pieces of work: seven minutes of Behind the Scenes and “A Look at Two Lovers” which runs in at five minutes and offers us a glimpse of crazy-mode Phoenix of late. Finally we get three fairly worthless Deleted Scenes and a Photo Gallery to round off the disc.
VerdictTwo Lovers is an odd little movie, told with artistic aplomb and offering a fairly natural, honest and insightful look at personal, familial and relationship problems, but unfortunately a few big hurdles prevent it being either totally accessible or particularly noteworthy. The tale feels much less believable because of the ambiguous ages of the characters, who just seem a little bit too old to be fumbling around in such a childish, naive and positively damaging fashion - behaviour you would expect from teen/early twenty-something characters in The O.C., not thirty-something purported grown-ups. Couple this with Gray's usually dark and moody stylistic approach, which feels totally inappropriate here - and sometimes pretentious, dressing up a soap as Oscar material - and the end result, whilst enjoyable, is a little misguided. The stars try their best but are somewhat let down by the aforementioned contrivance of the plot. And Joachim Phoenix has issues of his own as well.
On Region Free Blu-ray the movie largely looks and sounds distinctly average, surpassing SD standards but never excelling. I guess the material was never going to be decent enough to show off your equipment with, but it could have probably come across a little better than this. The extras will please fans, but fans are likely to be the only ones who get that far. Anybody else should give this a rental. It really isn't anything more than a condensed story arc from The O.C., a one-watch affair which is unremarkable and unmemorable and slightly disappointing considering all those involved, but nonetheless undeniably engaging and quite entertaining for its runtime.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £21.69
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