Stonehearst Asylum (2014)

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Released 18-Mar-2015

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Trailer-x 2 for other Roadshow releases
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2014
Running Time 108:04
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Brad Anderson
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Jim Sturgess
Ben Kingsley
Kate Beckinsale
David Thewlis
Michael Caine
Brendan Gleeson


Case ?
RPI ? Music John Debney


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Just prior to Christmas 1899 Dr. Edward Newgate (Jim Sturgess), an Alienist (a doctor who specialises in mental asylum medicine) who has just graduated from Oxford arrives at the remote Stonehearst Asylum to complete his clinical studies. He is welcomed by the asylum director Dr. Silas Lamb (Ben Kingsley) although the Chief Steward Mickey Finn (David Thewlis) is less welcoming. Stonehearst is an asylum housing individuals from the more privileged classes who have proved to be an embarrassment to their families and Newgate is surprised at the enlightened methods employed by Dr. Lamb with his patients: they are not restrained, there is no force feeding, they are not drugged into a docile stupor, there are no cold water treatments. Instead most of the patients are free to roam the building, interact together and even to sit with the director and staff at dinner.

     Newgate is immediately struck by the beautiful and genteel Mrs. Eliza Graves (Kate Beckinsale) and sets out to establish a connection with her that is encouraged by Lamb. However Eliza urges Newgate to leave the asylum immediately for his own safety and when later that night he follows a noise into the basement of the asylum he finds out why; for locked in the basement he discovers the real director of the asylum Dr. Benjamin Salt (Michael Caine), his Matron Mrs. Pike (Sinead Cusack) and the rest of the asylum staff being gradually starved to death. It seems that the inmates have, physically, taken over the asylum and Newgate has a choice to make.

     The Blu-ray of Stonehearst Asylum has been reviewed on this site by Daniel and his take on the film can be read here. In the main I agree with Daniel’s assessment of the film.

     With an impressive cast of names (to those mentioned above can be added Brendan Gleeson) and based on an Edgar Allan Poe short story it is strange that Stonehearst Asylum (also known as Eliza Graves) made so little impact on release, and was not shown theatrically in Australia. Critics have also been mostly unimpressed, with “dull” and “dismal pacing” being among their comments which I do think does the film a disservice. Certainly there is little action or overt excitement in a film shot pretty much in one interior set but at its centre Stonehearst Asylum is a gradually evolving mystery that continues right up to the twist in the final reel, where no-one is what they seem and no-one is blameless. While the central mystery is the focus, and while Jim Sturgess and Ben Kingsley are on screen, the film is interesting enough, but as the film is based on a short story aspects do feel padded out, such as the character of Millie (Sophie Kennedy Clark) and her fate which, with the performance of David Thewlis, feels like it belongs in another film altogether.

     Sturgess and Kingsley are good, but I may be in the minority in finding Kate Beckinsale unconvincing and Michael Caine on cruise control. However Stonehearst Asylum does have room for some insights into the treatment of “madness” at the turn of the century, barbaric and archaic medical treatments / cures that continued to be applied into the 21st century and it plays nicely with our sympathies. In Stonehearst Asylum who are the real madmen?

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Stonehearst Asylum is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, the original theatrical ratio being 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     This is a very, very dark print. There are no bright colours; the winter landscape outside is grey, the corridors, rooms, spaces and cells of the interiors are gloomy with a predominately brown palate, costumes are dull. The light is also muted resulting in a print where much is indistinct, with dark characters in front of dark walls so it is hard to see what is happening. This may have been deliberate, but it does not help. Blacks are solid, skin tones natural, contrast and brightness consistent except where the closing scene looks overexposed, again probably deliberately.

     There was some motion blur against trees but otherwise artefacts and marks were absent.

    English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available in a largish white font.

     The layer chance at 61:07 resulted in a noticeable pause at the end of a scene.

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

Audio

     Feature audio is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps, plus there is an English descriptive audio, Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 Kbps.

     The dialogue was mostly easy to understand except for a few accents. This is a film with a lot of interior scenes and conversations with not a lot in the surrounds except music and some ambience, such as doors and distant thunder; the most noticeable effect was in the coal chute scene. The subwoofer added bass to the music and thunder.

    Lip synchronisation is fine.

    The orchestral score by John Debney effectively supported the visuals.

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

Extras

Trailers

     Trailers for St. Vincent (2:21) and The Imitation Game (2:21) play on start-up. They cannot be selected from the menu.

R4 vs R1

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

     I cannot find any reviews of the Region 1 DVD or Stonehearst Asylum but as that region’s Blu-ray only contained a short (5 minute) making of I doubt the DVD as anything else. Hardly worth importing for the short extra so buy local.

Summary

     You would think that a film with a cast that includes Kate Beckinsale, Jim Sturgess, Ben Kingsley, Michael Caine, Brendan Gleeson and David Thewlis would make some impact but Stonehearst Asylum failed to register. Nevertheless, the film has its moments as a mystery, with a number of twists, while its look at some of the standard and recommended treatments for “madness” is never less that interesting.

     The video is murky, the audio fine. No relevant extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Saturday, January 16, 2016
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

Other Reviews NONE
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