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Vanguard Cinema presents
Henry Hill (2000)

"That is the worst kind: beautiful, fragile, needy, ready to accept the kindness of strangers. But beware, Henry, because she's scum. Pond scum."
- Ward Hill (James Villemaire)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: March 13, 2003

Stars: Jamie Herrold, Moira Kelly
Other Stars: Susan Blommaert, John Griesemer, Eden Riegel, James Villemaire, Michael Kimbal
Director: David G. Kantar

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, suicide, alcohol abuse, sensuality)
Run Time: 01h:18m:36s
Release Date: December 24, 2002
UPC: 658769210637
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- B+CA- D

DVD Review

From at least the time of Mozart, it's been acknowledged that musical prodigies tend to be somewhat, well, different than the rest of us. Whether it's the calling of the muse or distortion of personality brought on by disregard of social skills, there does seem to be something to this perception. Henry Hill takes a look at such a prodigy, now grown and attempting to cope as an adult with life and his music.

After freezing at an audition in New York, violinist Henry Hill (Jamie Herrold) puts a gun to his head. Managing only to injure himself, he returns home to Harrison, Maine where he tries to deal with his unsupportive family, including his mother (Susan Blommaert) who owns a diner and big brother Ward (James Villemaire). When he meets Cynthia (Moira Kelly), stopping off at the diner to make some money as she wends her way to New York, Henry tries to develop a relationship with her and deal with his own relationship to his music.

Herrold and Kelly both turn in fine performances here. Herrold takes the title role and lends it a well-rounded character that is alternately pathetic and sympathetic. He is aided in this by a series of flashbacks that relate Henry's relationship with his musical tutor, his uncle Owen (Michael Kimbal), who had killed himself. Henry's fractured personality is both tied up in his complex relationship with his uncle and concomitant hostility to the others in his family. Kelly (best known for Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me) has less to do, but gives the key role a fine pizzazz and fire that understandably sparks Henry's interest.

Although at times I wondered if the picture was going to turn into An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, thankfully it did not do so and stays honest with its story. The musical sequences are largely disappointing cheats, with Herrold seldom moving his fingers on the strings of his violin and moving inappropriately at the piano. Since music is so central to the story, one would have thought a bit more effort would have gone into making the musical performances convincing.

Nonetheless, the drama is well done, with fine turns by the supporting cast as well as the leads. The running time is about six and one-half minutes shorter than the already brief 85 minutes indicated on the keepcase.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - P&S
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: The feature is panned & scanned, resulting in rather cramped compositions. A comparison with the widescreen trailer demonstrates that significant chunks of the sides of the screen are missing here. The picture is rather grainy to begin with, and this doesn't help matters any. However, color is decent, with good black levels and decent shadow detail. Very little frame damage is present. The grade would have been a B if the original aspect ratio had been presented.

Image Transfer Grade: C


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: A very rich 2.0 mono track is provided. The sound is quite clear, without hiss or noise. The music in particular has excellent depth and presence for a mono track. This is a very nice example of a mono track that sounds quite good indeed.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The sole extra is the widescreen trailer.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

An anguished drama on music and the musician's place in society, taken through the microcosm of the family. Fine performances make this one worth a look.


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