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Universal Studios Home Video presents
On the Edge (2001)

"For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to spend Christmas in a suburban mental institution."
- Jonathan (Cillian Murphy)

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: May 20, 2002

Stars: Cillian Murphey, Tricia Vessey, Stephen Rea
Other Stars: Jonathan Jackson
Director: John Carney

Manufacturer: DVCC
MPAA Rating: R for language, some disturbing images and sexual content, and for some drug material
Run Time: 01h:25m:26s
Release Date: May 21, 2002
UPC: 025192177125
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

On the Edge covers fairly familiar ground. It's clearly a member of the "mental hospital" genre, with a twist of teen alienation right out of Good Will Hunting that results in a near carbon copy of the superior Girl, Interrupted. Still, it's an entertaining film with its own charms.

On the day of his father's funeral, after an all night fling with a stranger, Jonathan (Cillian Murphy) decides on a whim to commit suicide, driving a stolen car off of a cliff at 50mph. Unfortunately for him, he only manages to break his pinky finger, and is given the choice of prison or a stay in a mental hospital, to attend therapy sessions under the care of Dr. Figure (Stephen Rea).

Jonathan is an amusing protagonist, treating us to frequent ironic and acerbic voiceover about hospital life and his general lot in life. Murphy gives a suitably detached and guarded performance; however, the character is also something of a cliché, the typical smart aleck who points out the obviousness of his doctor's psychoanalytic efforts. Rea is surprisingly dry as the good doctor, even more so than is necessary in the portrayal of the laid back, analytical character (Jonathan calls him, "very Robin Williams").

While in the hospital, Jonathan meets Toby (Jonathan Jackson) and Rachel (Tricia Vessey), befriending one and falling in love with the other. Through these stories, of course, we are supposed to see Jonathan learn more about himself and his own problems, but their story arcs are so brief and telegraphed that nothing truly meaningful seems to happen, and though Jonathan is changed at the end of the film, it is unclear why.

I've neglected to mention that the film is set in Ireland, and all of the actors save Vessey are either Irish or playing Irish. This element sets the story apart from most in the genre, allowing for glimpses of local culture and charm, as well as some amusing colloquial speech. Director John Carney makes good use of the beautiful Irish landscape in his direction, and also reveals a sense of humor with his quirky staging of the drive off the cliff and a game of bowling.

With such a strong cast and crew, On the Edge should be a much better film than it is, but the script keeps it from being much more than one more trip down a well worn road.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This anamorphic image is fairly good, with strong colors and a nice, crisp look. However, black level is not as strong as it could be, and darker scenes look a bit muddy and grainy. Also detrimental is the abundance of flaws in the source material, including frequent scratches and marks.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: On the Edge isn't the type of movie that demands a DTS track, but the inclusion of one is appreciated. Both the DD and DTS mixes are comparable, with the DTS sounding a bit more natural, with more expansion across the front soundstage. Speaking of which, the fronts handle most of the audio in this dialogue-heavy film. The pop soundtrack does expand things quite nicely, however, with strong LFE presence. Surrounds are mostly silent throughout, providing only a bit of atmosphere during a few party scenes.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, French with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
Production Notes
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual
Layers Switch: 00h:47m:13s

Extras Review: The only extras provided are the trailer, some brief production notes, and cast and crew biographies.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

On the Edge is a well acted but routine entry in the "mental hospital" genre. It's worth a rental, but the high price and lack of supplements make it difficult to recommend it as anything more.


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