Solace (Blu-ray) (2015)

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Released 15-Mar-2017

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Crime Drama Featurette-(3:07)
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2015
Running Time 101:13
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Afonso Poyart
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Anthony Hopkins
Colin Farrell
Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Abbie Cornish



Case ?
RPI ? Music BT


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Descriptive Audio Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

Solace (v): to give alleviation, comfort, relief

     FBI Agents Joe Merriwether (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Katherine Cowles (Abbie Cornish) have run into a dead end in their hunt for a serial killer. Three people, a middle aged coloured woman, an elderly white male and a 12 year old boy, have been murdered. They have absolutely nothing in common, except that they all died from a puncture wound in the back of the neck. There are no clues at the crime scenes, although at one a cryptic note was left. Merriwether decides to ask for help from his old friend Dr John Clancy (Anthony Hopkins), a psychic who has assisted the FBI to solve crimes in the past but who is now a recluse following the death of his daughter from leukaemia and the break-up of his marriage.

     Katherine is a rational, scientific agent who has no faith in psychics and she cannot see what Clancy can contribute and, indeed, Clancy is initially reluctant but the case draws him in. Then a young woman is found murdered the same way as the others and there is a note pinned on her wall with the exact time the FBI arrived. Clancy comes to realise that all the victims did have something else in common; they were all terminally ill in some way, even if they did not realise it. Even more disturbing is his realisation that the killer is another psychic, superior to Clancy, who is seeing and anticipating their every move. How do you catch a man who knows what you are going to do before you do it, and who is laying the clues that he wants you to follow?

     Solace is a serial killer film with a somewhat different agenda. There is no real mystery as to the identity of the killer; he is Charles Ambrose (Colin Farrell) who Clancy sees in visions and later meets in person. It transpires that Ambrose has murdered over 60 people all over the country but his motivation is not thrill-seeking, sexual gratification, or plain psychosis; he can see in visions the pain and extreme suffering that certain people with terminal illnesses are going to endure so he takes it upon himself to relieve that suffering, to give solace so that they can die quickly and with dignity. So as well as the usual car chases, shot-outs, and rainy cityscapes, Solace enters the debate about euthanasia and mercy killing. For a number of the characters, including Clancy and Merriwether, this is very personal, but the film somewhat overcomplicates its plot to accommodate this; it also adds religious imagery and arguments on both sides of the debate before ending with a twist in the last scene.

     Indeed there are a number of twists and red herrings throughout Solace. These mostly take the form of scenes which look real, but turn out to be visions where what actually happens is different, or other visions which may, or may not, be accurate. The psychic abilities of the two characters do, however, pose a paradox in my mind at least: if the psychic can see a life threatening event in the future, and thus take steps to alter that future event to change the outcome, shouldn’t that mean the original event did not happen so could not be foreseen? In any case the film allows no time to dwell on such thoughts for it was shot with a myriad of stylistic flourishes including fast motion, freeze frames, fast editing, jump frames, 360 pans Tony Scott would have been proud of and characters frequently filmed through doors, car windows, window frames, lattices or, very often, seen in mirrors or polished tabletops. These flourishes put the audience at one remove from the characters, and it feels overdone.

     Directed by Brazilian Afonso Poyart, Solace is a serial killer film that tries to be something a bit unusual. It does not quite pull it off due to some overly flashy filmmaking and ponderous scripting, but it is entertaining and Anthony Hopkins is always worth watching.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Solace is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     This is a film with a dark colour scheme, including many scenes in dark rooms or on rainy nights, but it does have flashes of natural greens and blues on the few times the film ventures beyond city limits. Some interiors are quite murky which effects shadow detail and some of the visions are deliberately soft and muted. Overhead shots of the city at night have firm detail and solid blacks, but these scenes and others show that digital yellowish tinge under lights. However, skin tones are fine and brightness and contrast consistent except where glare is used deliberately for effect.

     Some dark interiors looked mottled but otherwise artefacts and marks were absent.

     English for the Hearing Impaired captions are provided.

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

Audio

     Audio choices are English DTS-HD MA 5.1 and English descriptive audio, Dolby Digital 5.1.

     This is a nice audio experience. The rears are used for ambient sounds such as rain and doors closing, plus the music and discordant voices during visions. There are also sudden loud sound effects accompanying jump cuts, plus engines during the car chase. Gun shots resonate, dialogue is clear. The sub-woofer added boom to the car chase, gunshots, impacts and the music.

     The score by BT is diverse. At times it is orchestral, other times electronic while pop songs by the likes of Bobby & The Demons, as well as a segment from La Boheme by Puccini, are also on the sound track.

     There are no lip synchronisation issues.

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

Extras

Featurette (3:07)

     Basically, cast and crew describe the plot with some added film footage. Short and superficial.

Cast & Crew Interviews

     Few insights are offered as cast and crew talk about various things including the plot, their character, other cast members, the director, the visual style of the film. The interviewees are:

R4 vs R1

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

     The Region A US version of Solace includes an audio commentary by director Afonso Poyart which is reported to be so-so, a making of (8:40) and the theatrical trailer but it misses out on our featurette and interviews. Buyer’s call, although perhaps the commentary is the clincher.

Summary

     With a cast including Anthony Hopkins, Colin Farrell, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Abbie Cornish it is rather surprising that Solace did not get a theatrical release but the fact that the production company filed for bankruptcy did not help. Despite this, it is an interesting serial killer film that tries to be something a bit different, raising ethical dilemmas about mercy killings and tossing psychic abilities into the mix.

     The video is acceptable and the audio very good. The interviews in the extras offer few insights, but at least we get them although we miss out on the audio commentary.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
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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