Written By Blu-ray Review
'Written By' is presented in widescreen 2.35:1 with MPEG-4 AVC 1080p coding.
As this is a recent release, I was hoping that the transfer on this release would be up to scratch and I was not disappointed. The level of detail on show is very pleasing, with many visual nuances, such as birds in the background above Melody's apartment, clearly visible. Another fine example are the individual dots of brail on Melody's novel, which stand out with sharp definition, even during mid-range shots. All of the scenes have a very pleasing depth and there were also a few occurrences of that sought after 3D pop factor. Fine detail is also present, such as the sharp pinstripe pattern of Tony's shirt. While there aren't a whole lot of facial close-ups, the ones included are very satisfying; bags underneath the eyes, smile lines and other wrinkles are picked up in their entirety. I also could have sworn that I could see the “blind” contacts in Lau's eyes, although I could be mistaken.
The palette is well saturated, with some very bold and vibrant primaries, even if the transfer appears somewhat muted during some of the scenes. Skin tonality is also spot on for the duration. Subtleties in colour graddation, from the light pink tinge of the young Melody's lips standing out in stark contrast to the deep red of her mother's robe (which is also inlaid with a thin strip of visible blue satin), are also prevalent. The various flowers, which are a key inclusion in the story, certainly make full use of the colour spectrum and appear incredibly realistic. Grain is virtually non-existent but there were a few instances of digital noise observed, this was largely unobtrusive though. The contrast ratio is very strong and boasts some very deep blacks, especially during the graveyard sequences.
The manner in which Wai shot the movie is somewhat strange in that a lot of the objects in frame are slightly out of focus, especially foreground objects in mid-range shots. While initially I found this somewhat distracting, it did have the effect of creating very sharp mid-range shots, albeit at the expense of the “close-up” objects. I also found that the quality of the transfer exposed some of the special effects as decidedly amateurish but this is merely an observation and not a flaw. Overall this is a very clean and impressive transfer, comes recommended and just falls short of the top marks.
'Written By' comes packed with a very powerful Dolby TrueHD 7.1 surround track.
Right from the outset, the power of this track is blatantly obvious. The car crash scene in the opening few minutes is absolutely immense and really is demo material. The impact brings forth a wave of incredibly deep bass which passes under the listening position, vibrating everything in the room - me included! The surround intervention from this scene is also impressive, with the crash of broken glass seemingly coming from directly behind the listening position. This opener indicated that the track was going to make full use of the four surround channels at its disposal, and it certainly didn't disappoint. The surround effects are really immersive, with the large truck involved in the collision, grinding right into the centre of the listening position from right field, with a screeching mess of twisted metal in tow.
While this scene is never really topped for the duration of the piece, we at least get to hear it's mighty presence a couple of times; thanks to a couple of flashback/alternate sequences. All other aspects of the track, such as the tickling of ivories or birds fluttering around the listening position, are well engineered and of the highest calibre. But these just don't quite match up to the force and enveloping quality of the opening crash scene. Surround activity is almost constant, with seemingly no breaks in the audio activity for the duration. The bass is also very well represented throughout, with a few moments of very powerful impacts to test the capabilities of your subwoofer. The orchestral score is also given pride of place in the mix and comes into its own during the more subdued moments. The bass is weighty, with decent score bleed and other musical effects emanating from the surround channels at various junctures.
I have to say that this track is one of the best that I have heard in a long time on BD and really does contain some reference audio moments. My one complaint is that the mix was slightly too loud in places and was really overpowering, especially with regards to the moments of high treble. Although some may see this as a plus, I see it as a flaw and this track just falls short of the top marks as a result. In saying that, I would recommend buying this disc for the audio presentation alone!
There is also a dts Master Audio 7.1 surround track available for selection but I really could not notice any discernable difference between this track and the Dolby offering.
Once again I must disappointingly report that none of the extra features included on this release feature any English subtitles. The lack of subtitles is not really an issue here as the selection of additional supplements is somewhat sparse.
Making Of (SD 16mins) - This feature takes a behind the scenes look at the making of 'Written Of'. Interviews with the cast are included, who also provide a breakdown of some of the scenes.
Photo Gallery - An incredibly poor collection of 6 high definition “photos” from the movie.
Trailer - A single high definition trailer for the feature presentation is available here for your viewing pleasure.
'Written By' was directed by Ka-Fai Wai ('Fulltime Killer') and was released this year (2009). This movie tells the tale of a blind girl, Melody, as she comes to terms with the death of her father, Tony. She attempts to resurrect her father via the pages of a novel she writes. As the movie progresses, we see Melody fall deeper into the world she has created, as the line between fantasy and reality becomes increasingly blurred. Infusing childish imagery to bolster the more shocking nature of some of the content, Wai has certainly succeeded in creating an innovative and unusual movie that explores themes of mortality and destiny (and ways to control these seemingly uncontrollable motions of fate). The story is interesting and the pace is cracking, both of which are helped along by the guiding hand of Wai. The piece is only let down by its unnecessarily convoluted plot (which can really push grey matter to the limits) and poorly executed (in places) CGI effects. Overall if you are looking for something different then I would recommend that you check this movie out.
The video presentation just falls short of top marks and is for the most part very well defined and demonstrates a very pleasing depth and instances of three-dimensionality. The audio presentation is of reference standard, with the car crash scene gaining a firm place in the demo material category and making full use of all available 7.1 surround channels. The extras package is somewhat sparse and is rendered almost completely useless (well at least to all non-Cantonese speakers) by the lack of English subtitles. What we've got here is an above average movie which is made all the more tempting by a fantastic transfer and a reference surround track.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £21.69
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