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HBO presents

Five Days (2007)

"This is never going to be over, John. This is for life!"- Matt (David Oyelowo)

Stars: Christine Tremarco, Hugh Bonneville, Janet McTeer, David Oyelowo
Other Stars: Sarah Smart, Michelle Bonnard, Edward Woodward, Patrick Malahide, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Tyler Anthony, Lucinda Dryzek, Vincent Franklin, Lee Massey, Charlie Creed-Miles, Penelope Wilton, Al Weaver, Jason Watkins, San Shella, Patrick O'Kane, Caroline Martin, Margot Leicester, Rory Kinnear, Richard Harrington, Joanna Horton, Ruth Gemmell, Philip Davis, Doug Allen
Director: Simon Curtis, Otto Bathurst

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, brief nudity)
Run Time: 05h:00m:26s
Release Date: 2008-03-11
Genre: suspense thriller

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Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B+B+B C-

 

DVD Review

Five Days represents an HBO/BBC hybrid, a taut five-part mini focused on the emotional scars caused by the sudden disappearance of a young woman in England. Each episode centers on one particular day, beginning with the disappearance (Day One) and then jumping along the timeline for subsequent eps (Day Three, Day Twenty-Eight, Day Thirty-Three and Day Seventy-Nine). There's a large pile of characters to fall in with, including the family, the police, the press and a smattering of secondary types, all of whom cross paths in a number of different ways during the course of the investigation.

As the series progresses, the interracial marriage of the missing woman becomes an unspoken hot button for police eager to solve the case, as husband Matt (David Oyelowo) is under constant scrutiny when chinks in their relationship begin to surface. But it's not just poor Matt under the microscope, and as the investigation continues the media pressures and emotional intensity mounts, causing a ripple effect on parents, friends and just about everyone and anyone who has any involvement with the case. There's quite a lot going on here, as children fall prey to a suspected pedophile, marriages drift apart, strangers become close friends, as the whole volatile pot of churning tensions (often crossing an assortment of ethnic boundaries) eventually boils over.

Credit writer Gwyneth Hughes for being able to juggle so many storylines, meshing them together when necessary in ways that rarely seem unnatural. I can gloss over a couple of pat conveniences for the greater good, as Hughes tilts the board a bit and makes the resolution of the disappearance less important than simply wanting to know what will happen to the diverse span of characters. And unlike most police procedurals, the main investigators (Hugh Bonneville and Janet McTeer in a pair of solid performances) are hardly flawless, and suffer their own share of gross imperfections that serve to water down the way the case is handled. Witness the drunken unraveling of McTeer's DS Foster late in the series; it's an adventurous move for a character who up until that point had been rather likeable, and who from that point on carries a grossly tainted veneer.

There's plenty of room here for most of the key players to make a mark as things implode, as David Oyelowo makes the role of the suspect husband a purposely tough read for viewers; one moment he's grief-stricken, the next suspicious. But are his occasional explosive outbursts—always caught by the ever present media—a hint at some deeper rage? Penelope Wilton is awkwardly wonderful as the mother of the missing woman, with a performance that is squeezed tight with repressed emotions and avoidance of the obvious, while her father is played with a grumpy loneliness by Edward Woodward, who gets to unleash a familial rant that is absolutely cold. There's nary a bad apple in the bunch here, and with so many characters you'd think there would be a clinker or two somewhere, and even conceptually small roles such as that of Lucinda Dryzek, who expertly nails the grand expanse of the bitchy teenage mood swings as Matt's thirteen-year-old stepdaughter.

Hughes and co-directors Simon Curtis and Otto Bathurst don't always pander to viewers by going the route of a standard issue crime drama, here often requiring more mental involvement than most shows do, primarily during the final couple of episodes where the gap in the timespan is larger. Events take place that we the viewer aren't privy to, and the narrative moves forward with slight references to things that have already happened. There's an immediate sense that maybe an episode or two has been skipped, and the absence of any succinct expository dialogue blocks to patch up the holes forces audiences to pay close attention.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: All episodes are presented in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio. While not overly bright, the color levels remain consistent throughout, revealing a diverse set of naturally rendered fleshtones. Image detail is solid, but works best on those lingering closeups, where facial features really jump out. No evidence of print damage throughout the run.

Nice

Image Transfer Grade: B+
 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Spanishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The principle audio track is offered in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. Voice quality (accents aside) is clear, and the mix offers a slight sense of directional movement. Rear channels cues are infrequent, but a few are especially well placed, though far from the norm here. And yes, the optional subtitles will come in handy to help clarify the occasional thick accent or block of dialogue.

A Spanish 2.0 dub is also included.

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 30 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring HBO Films, Pu-239, MI-5
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: 2 disc slip case
Picture Disc
2 Discs
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: This 2-disc set comes packaged in a hinged case, complete with slipcover. Extras aren't terribly plentiful, as disc one (02h:56m:04s) carries just the first three episodes and a couple of trailers. Disc two (02h:04m:22s) holds the final two eps, and the featurette Behind The Mystery With Writer Gwyneth Hughes (13m:21s). Hughes biggest revelation is that she didn't know how the story was going to end when she started, and in hindsight that seems quite apparent. Her concerns were more with telling the tale of the people directly involved, something that does come out in the final product.

Each episode, which run roughly an hour each, are cut into six chapters each and feature optional subtitles in English or Spanish.

Extras Grade: C-
 

Final Comments

A block of fine performances hold this tense British kidnapping drama together, even though the resolution comes across somewhat hurried. Remarkably that's hardly all that much of a problem, as it is the layered interactions and easily fragmented lives that is the real emotional center of the story

Consider this a hearty rental recommendation.

Rich Rosell 2008-04-15