Virginia (Blu-ray) (2010)

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Released 19-Mar-2014

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Trailer-x 6 for other Eagle releases
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2010
Running Time 110:54
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Dustin Lance Black
Studio
Distributor

Eagle Entertainment
Starring Jennifer Connelly
Ed Harris
Harrison Gilbertson
Emma Roberts
Amy Madigan
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Nick Urata


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Virginia commences with a scene at a suburban crime scene and then goes back a year to explain what happened. In a small Southern town, single mother with a mental disability Virginia (Jennifer Connelly) has struggled to raise her teenage son Emmett (Harrison Gilbertson) while, for two decades, carrying on an affair with the very married Mormon Sheriff Richard Tipton (Ed Harris) who is not averse to a bit of S&M. But Tipton is running as a candidate for State Senate and finding less time for Virginia so she pretends to be pregnant. This announcement does not go down well with Tipton and he pushes Virginia aside, so she stuffs clothing under her dress and tells everyone that she is pregnant and who the father is. To complicate matters further, Emmett and Tipton’s daughter Jessie (Emma Roberts) have fallen in love and Tipton is determined to keep them apart. Things come to a head on the October long weekend when the Governor comes to town to endorse Tipton’s candidacy.

     Virginia is the second feature from writer / director Dustin Lance Black who won a Best Screenplay Oscar for Milk (2008). Virginia was first shown at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2010 but the film’s reception there was apparently not good and the film was recut and did not have a limited theatrical release until 2012. However some critics were still unimpressed and have called Virginia, among other things, depressing, uneven, off balance, unfocussed and mean spirited. But I have to disagree and say that while it has some faults Virginia is not that bad.

     Perhaps my biggest question is about the tone of Virginia. It could almost be a black comedy, or a satire with some biting comments about religion and morality, and some of the situations are off-kilter, such as a prayer before S&M or a farcical attempted bank robbery. However, Virginia is played absolutely straight by the four main leads as a drama. By and large Jennifer Connelly downplays her role, only occasionally indulging in some hysterics, while Ed Harris does give some dignity to an unlikeable character (apparently Liam Neeson was originally cast as Tipton and it would have been interesting to see what he would do with it) which prevents the film from veering into melodrama. Both young adults, Harrison Gilbertson and Emma Roberts, give natural performances but perhaps the most tragic and complex performance comes from Amy Madigan as Tipton’s naďve and longsuffering wife Roseanna.

     While Virginia is certainly uneven, it is by no means as hopeless or depressing as some have maintained. Dustin Lance Black has tried to do something a little different and a good cast, some off-kilter situations and a fudged but reasonable ending mean that Virginia is certainly interesting and well worth watching.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Virginia is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. The IMDb does not give the original ratio, but the film does not look cropped and all other Blu-ray and DVD releases are in this 1.78:1 ratio, so I suspect this is close to the original ratio.

     This is a very nice looking print, sharp and with a good depth of detail. Filmed with the Arri camera, Virginia has those glossy digital colours which look very good indeed. Blacks are exceptional, shadow detail fine. Skin tones sometimes have that slight digital yellowish tinge but are mostly natural, while brightness and contrast are consistent.

     I saw minor motion blur in one scene only; otherwise there are no other marks or artefacts.

     There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is a choice of an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 or English Dolby Digital 5.1.

     Dialogue was mostly clear and easy to understand except for a couple of sentences from Harrison Gilbertson. This is a dialogue driven film without the need for loud effects in the rears, and even in the climax the gunshots are deliberately muted. The rears do produce a little music and ambient effects which is all that is needed. The sub-woofer was mostly silent.

     The original music by Nick Urata, which included some of his songs, was augmented by a range of pop and easy listening music, including songs from Blondie and Barry Manilow, as well as music by Chopin.

     I did not notice any lip synchronisation issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Trailers

     Trailers for Exploding Sun (1:45), Delete (2:07), Dracano (0:52), Marco and the Pirates (2:13), CAT.8 (1:55) and Eve of Destruction (1:43).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     There is no listed Blu-ray release of Virginia in either Region A US or Region B UK; the only Blu-ray listed is a Region B Danish release with a range of European subtitles but no extras. There is a Region 1 US DVD release that does include a 21 minute “making of” that is reported as “disposable”. For Blu-ray our release is the go.

Summary

     Virginia is certainly uneven but with a good cast including Jennifer Connelly and Ed Harris it is by no means as hopeless or depressing as some have maintained. Virginia is indeed a little different but it does hold the interest and is well worth watching, especially for fans of Connelly and Harris.

     The video is very good, the audio does what is required. Some trailers for other films are the only extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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