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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
The Statement (2003)

"All I want is absolution."
- Pierre Brossard (Michael Caine)

Review By: Matt Peterson   
Published: April 26, 2004

Stars: Michael Caine, Tilda Swinton, Jeremy Northam
Other Stars: Alan Bates, William Hutt, John Neville, Charlotte Rampling
Director: Norman Jewison

MPAA Rating: R for violence
Run Time: 01h:59m:17s
Release Date: April 27, 2004
UPC: 043396013681
Genre: suspense thriller

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

The French Vichy regime was one of many in a long line of European Nazi collaborators. When Hitler's forces rolled across the continent, there were three options: surrender, collaborate, or resist. Various citizens and governments chose one of these courses of action, with varying results. Some became caught up in the momentum of it all; before they knew it, some were openly executing the will of the Reich. Justice eventually caught up with many of these individuals. Some got away.

This is the background for Norman Jewison's recent thriller, starring the always riveting Michael Caine as Pierre Brossard—one war criminal who got away. Under the Vichy government, he oversaw and ordered the execution of seven French Jews in late June 1944. Was he acting under orders? Did he take this task upon himself? This is unclear, but for forty years, he has been on the run, finding respite and salvation through the Church. As one Jesuit proclaims, the Catholic Church is not a monolithic organization, contrary to popular belief. There are small groups within the whole that keep their own agendas, and ultimately answer to no one but themselves. One such organization has sought to safeguard Brossard, providing money, shelter, and protection.

Meanwhile, Brossard is surrounded by enemies. A group of wealthy aristocrats wants to see him dead, branded with a drafted "statement" that proclaims the evils of his past. They send assassins to do their bidding. The law, in the form of Colonel Roux (Jeremy Northam) and Annemarie Livi (Tilda Swinton) are also after the war criminal, hoping to prosecute him under the newly adopted "crimes against humanity" law. A cat and mouse game ensues. Will the Church be successful in hiding the fugitive and be able to save face? Who will get to Brossard first?

This is a film that should have worked, but ultimately falls short. Granted, Jewison's direction is solid, if not a bit slow and conventional. However, the script, adapted from the novel by Brian Moore, seems to overlook the motivations behind Brossard's past and chooses to focus on the chase, which is inherently less interesting. Why did Brossard kill these Jews? In a brief scene with his estranged wife (the underused Charlotte Rampling), dialogue hints at motivations deeper than mere "sins of youth," but they are never fully explored. Also, the reasons for the Catholic Church's (or a splinter group thereof) decision to shelter Brossard are hazy at best. Throw me a bone here.

Some may have trouble with the fact that the entire cast of French characters is British. Personally, I did not find this distracting. Caine's performance is rather schizophrenic, exhibiting various attitudes and emotions that frankly made me wonder if he was playing the same character from scene to scene. At times, he is cold, calculating, bigoted, and focused. At other times, he is a weepy, sniveling, terrified boy looking for safety. Odd, to say the least. Jeremy Northam and Tilda Swinton are a fine pair and develop their somewhat flat characters as much as possible. Swinton's persistant, stubborn Livi is the standout among the two. Strangely enough, the apparent "mastermind" behind the plot to kill Brossard is revealed early, disappears, then re-appears, being treated as if his identity and involvement should have monumental impact for the viewer. Well, it's not there. Caine still makes this above average, but a disappointing outing from the talent involved.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Columbia's anamorphic transfer exhibits solid blacks, contrast and rather muted colors. In general, the image is rather soft, blurring detail at some points. Nevertheless, Frank Jewison's (the director's son) naturalistic cinematography comes thorough well. Grain is minimal, even during the opening black-and-white sequence. Some edge enhancement is seen here and there. Good but not great.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby 5.1 mix is appropriately front heavy for a dialogue-driven film. The surrounds provide some nice ambient fill. LFE kicks in to emphasize the orchestral score, which is mixed very well. Nothing flashy, but the mix serves the material.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary, The Company, The Fog of War, The Triplets of Belleville
2 Deleted Scenes
3 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Norman Jewison
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extras Review: Columbia has managed to provide a few extras. First is a commentary by director Norman Jewison. His comments focus on his approach to the material, including his desire to let the camera tell the story. At times, he describes what is happening on screen a bit too much.

Two deleted scenes are presented together in a single clip (05m:53s). The first is an extended version of a scene involving an assignment for an assassin. The second is a brief personal moment between Roux and Livi. I wish the second bit was left in.

Next is a pair of interviews, presented with title cards that list the interviewer's question, followed by the answer. Not very elegant, but functional. Michael Caine's segment (07m:11s) covers how he got involved in the project, and the challenges of his character. Norman Jewison (10m:04s) discusses the project's development directing a small budget picture, working with his son, and the film's message.

Finally, The Making of The Statement rounds out the package. This is a pretty standard EPK promo, containing interviews and film clips, but goes a bit more in-depth than usual.

All in all, nothing extraordinary, but more than I expected.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

Caine's performance, though scattered and unfocused, makes this worth checking out if you're in the mood for a little 'ol cat and mouse. However, the rest is an undeveloped mass of missed potential.


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