Still Life (2012)

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Released 26-Nov-2014

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 89:00
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Uberto Pasolini
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Eddie Marsan
Joanne Froggatt
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Rachel Portman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     It is a sad fact of life that British actor Eddie Marsan has spent his career playing character roles, usually bad characters. He was the driving instructor with the very short fuse in Happy Go Lucky and the evil husband in Tyrannosaur. Even the character of Panx in Charles Dickens' Bleak House was a fellow with a heart of gold but a relatively brutal exterior. Therefore, when it came time to release the DVD of Still Life, a 2012 British film, it is perhaps not surprising that for marketing reasons Joanne Froggatt, hugely popular as Mrs Bates from Downton Abbey, would be prominently featured on the DVD case, despite the fact that she has a minor but important role. The other effect of this promotion is perhaps that it gives a misleading idea that the film is a love story between two ordinary people. Instead it is a wistfully melancholic tale of a lonely man on his small journey to bring some peace to the world.

     Marsan plays John May who, for the last 22 years, has been employed by a London Borough Council to locate the next of kin for any residents who have died seemingly alone. His journeys usually end in failure with John being the only person at the funeral. It is much to the chagrin of his boss that John actually holds funerals for these lost souls. Perhaps he has a good argument. With allocation of resources being an issue why spend lots of money on funerals when no one attends?

     When John attends at the apartment of his latest case, an old man named Billy Stoke, he does not realise that it will be his last case. His boss calls him into the office later and gives him the bad news that he is out of work. He has just three days in which to locate any next of kin and organise a funeral for the deceased. It does not help that Billy Stoke lived in the same apartment block as John yet the two never met.

     Producer Uberto Pasolini (The Fully Monty) has directed his second film with Still Life. He is unafraid to allow the film to adopt John May's rhythms. As a consequence it is a superb study of a meticulous person who tries to get a sense of closure for his clients but frequently fails to do so. His journey to gather the friends and family of Billy Stoke is not an easy one as the life he uncovers is one of disappointment, broken promises and sometimes violence. However he does make a connection with the friends and family including Joanne Froggatt and his quest to complete the funeral arrangements becomes vitally important.

     Eddy Marsan has never been better as the quiet and lonely bachelor. The film is slowly paced however it is also replete with wistful humour. The ending threatens to tip the balance of the film but concludes with a moment which is breathtaking and sublime. A recommended film.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Still Life comes to DVD in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio so a transfer consistent with the original cinema aspect ratio. It was filmed on digital video and the image quality is fairly crisp and clear throughout.

     I noticed a few small moments of aliasing however in general the transfer is excellent.

     The flesh tones are accurate and the colours bright and clear.

    There are no subtitles.

Audio

     The soundtrack for Still Life is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track running at 448 KB/S.

     The dialogue is perfectly rendered. There are a couple of regional accents which are a little bit difficult to follow. However, generally it is a clear soundtrack.

     One of the benefits of being married to an Oscar winning composer in Rachel Portman is that it gives you a go-to person for the score to your film. Pasolini was lucky in this regard as the score to Still Life is exceptional and moving throughout.

    There are no technical defects with the sound transfer.

Extras

    There are no extras.

R4 vs R1

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

  

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Summary

    Still Life is a quiet yet moving film that examines the way in which we connect to each other. The DVD is of good quality in sound and vision terms.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Saturday, December 13, 2014
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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