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Trimark Home Entertainment presents
"First rule of adjusting: You can never know for sure what happened in an accident."
DVD ReviewFilm noir somehow often comes around to insurance. Double Indemnity is of course the classic of the genre. This 2000 Australian production takes the noir sensibility and puts it into the glass insurance towers of postmodern Sydney, trading shadow and dark for light and steel. But the result is none the less deadly for it.
Young Ben Madigan (Tom Long) is in the big city for his first job, working for UAI as an insurance adjustor, with the naïve hope of helping people. He comes under the wing of Kreisky (Bryan Brown), who sets up an experiment using Ben's innocence as a lure to get claimants to settle. But as Ben comes to realize, there's more to it than that, particularly when he meets Kreisky's crooked lawyer girlfriend, Louise (Claudia Karvan). Their scam works beautifully....until someone gets greedy.
This is a fairly enjoyable little thriller, though it doesn't quite have top-notch, edge of your seat suspense. However, there is a definite ominous air present, particularly in the sequences where Louise begins seducing Ben. Most of the film is in bright sunlight, though there are plenty of backroom and alleyway deals to ground the film in the noir genre.
Long makes for a charming character with his wide-eyed innocence; he looks a bit like a young Mick Jagger—if Jagger had been raised on an Amish farm. Bryan Brown is excellent as the master scam artist who never lets anything rattle him. As usual, he steals any scene he's in. Claudia Karvan is a bit unreadable, which is appropriate for her character, whose motivations and allegiances are consistently suspect.
The direction is a bit self-consciously arty, with conspicuous use of time-elapse photography for no particular reason. The story works pretty well, although even after two viewings it's not terribly obvious how the scam machine works. But that, as usual, is the unimportant MacGuffin and is just to get the characters into place. The character interaction is superb and is one of the great merits of the picture. While not a classic, it's certainly capable and worth the consideration of fans of film noir.
The running time is four minutes longer than the 89 indicated on the keepcase.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B
Image Transfer Review: The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen picture generally looks excellent. There are a few instances of minor compression artifacts, but nothing terrible or overly distracting. Black levels are very good and color is quite nice throughout. Sky colors seem a little off, but that may be an intentional effect to give it a more noir feel.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: The 5.1 DD sound is first-rate, with loud, chest-thumping bass prominent from the many car crashes and the pounding rock score. Dialogue is clear throughout, and there's plenty of environmental surround sound throughout that is particularly effective during a sequence under the water in a pool and at the seashore. No hiss or noise is to be heard. A very nice soundtrack indeed.
Audio Transfer Grade: A
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Kill Me Later, The Rules of Attraction
Extras Review: The sole extra on the menu is an electronic press kit set of interviews running 8m:45s. There's really nothing of substance in this at all; the actors just describe their characters and the situation; the director makes a little more of an impression. Subtitling is good, and chaptering is adequate. Several trailers for Lion's Gate films are included as a hidden easter egg: a pan & scan red-band R trailer for Kill Me Later, a nonanamorphic 1.85:1 trailer for The Rules of Attraction and a pan & scan green-band R trailer for the main feature.
Extras Grade: C-
Final CommentsA deft little Aussie thriller with a nice transfer, particularly in the audio realm. Not much in the way of extras.
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