Killing Me Softly (2002)

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Released 8-Oct-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 96:16 (Case: 102)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Chen Kaige
Studio
Distributor

Magna Home Entertainment
Starring Heather Graham
Joseph Fiennes
Natascha McElhone
Ulrich Thomsen
Ian Hart
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Patrick Doyle


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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

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

Plot Synopsis

    Killing Me Softly features the slightly attractive Heather Graham and the considerable acting talent of Joseph Fiennes in a raunchy R-rated thriller. Unfortunately, the film fails to live up to its early promise, and the denouement leaves you feeling totally unsatisfied.

    Alice (Graham) is an American web-site developer living happily in London with her English boyfriend. On her way to work, she meets a brooding stranger, Adam Tallis (Fiennes), at a pedestrian crossing and there is an immediate spark of chemistry between the two. Alice follows Adam to a local bookshop, where she discovers he is in fact a celebrated mountaineer. Before you can say "utterly contrived nonsense", they are en-route back to his flat and Alice gets to experience Adam's mounting skills first hand.

    Adam's penchant for kinky sex convinces Alice that she must leave her staid boyfriend, and she soon moves in with Adam. After he saves her from an attempted mugging by beating the mugger to the point of unconsciousness in a near-psychotic fit of rage, Alice accepts his proposal of marriage and soon she is Mrs Alice Tallis (gimme a break!). Strange things are afoot however, and Alice soon starts to receive anonymous warning letters about Adam. Coupled with a suspiciously padlocked cupboard in his flat, and the semi-sadistic sexual preferences of her constantly glowering new husband, Alice soon begins to suspect there is more to Adam than meets the eye.

    Determined to uncover the truth behind the anonymous notes, allegations of rape and the seemingly suspicious disappearance of Adam's previous girlfriend, Alice enlists the aid of her new sister-in-law Deborah (Natascha McElhone). Meanwhile Adam becomes suspicious of Alice and this makes him increasingly violent. The film provides a breadcrumb trail of red herrings to try and generate some tension, but fails miserably. The sex scenes are quite raw, but Adam's character is so damned surly and violent that you wonder why Alice doesn't just leave him and get on with her life.

    Killing Me Softly is most memorable for the unusually lacklustre performance of Fiennes and the frequent guest appearances of Graham's breasts. The slightly titillating sex scenes fail to compensate for a silly plot, general lack of tension and totally ham-fisted climax. The film could have been so much more, but ultimately it meanders along to the silly ending which is telegraphed fairly early on in the piece anyway. This is a mediocre film and is at best worth a weekly rental for fans of Heather Graham.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality of this transfer is fairly good with no major deficiencies.

    The video transfer is presented 16x9 enhanced at 1.85:1 which I assume is the original theatrical aspect ratio.

    The dark scenes show solid blacks with no low level noise evident. Shadow detail is generally fine. Colours are cleanly rendered with some very bright primaries cropping up from time to time. There is no evidence of colour bleeding. Skin tones are natural throughout the film.

    The transfer has no notable MPEG artefacts. Edge enhancement was present occasionally, but was never a significant issue. Aliasing, whilst present on the usual suspects (buildings, cars and the books at 13:38 for example) was not too distracting. There are a few fleeting film artefacts but these do not detract from what is overall a very clean image.

    There are no subtitles available.

    This disc is dual layered with a brief pause for the layer change occurring at 61:20. This is well placed at a scene change.

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

Audio

    The overall audio transfer is quite good with no significant flaws.

    There are two English audio tracks available. The first is Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 448 kbps and the second is a Dolby Digital 2.0 affair encoded at 448 kbps, without the surround flag encoded. I listened to the 5.1 track and found it to be satisfactory with no hiss, pops or dropouts noticed. Dialogue is always clear and audio sync was fine throughout.

    The original music is credited to Patrick Doyle (Donnie Brasco, Gosford Park) and is a rather good strings-driven orchestral piece with a tense, manic feel to it which supports Alice's feelings of confusion quite well. Whilst occasionally powerful, it never drowns out the dialogue.

    The front speakers are well used to provide some good separation across the front soundstage. The surround speakers are well used to support the swirling musical score when it kicks in, and to provide surround ambience, for example at the train station or during the storm around the forty-one minute mark. There is little in the way of discrete localised sound effects and they could perhaps have seen a bit more use to provide a few more aural surprises.

    The subwoofer sees some use to support the musical score and the occasional effect such as the mountain climbing scene at the beginning of the movie. This is not a particularly bass-heavy soundtrack however, so the low frequency effects are minimal.

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

Extras

    The extras available on this disc are lightweight, only mildly interesting, and do not add a great deal to the overall package.

Menu

    The main menu is a static photograph of the main protagonists with the theme music playing. It allows the selection of playing the movie, choosing one of a mere eleven chapter stops, audio track choice, or access to the following extras:

Trailer

     Running for 2:01 and presented fullscreen (1.33:1) and therefore not 16x9 enhanced with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 kbps.

Featurette

    A short (4:43) piece of typical EPK fluff presented fullscreen (1.33:1) with non anamorphically enhanced letterboxed clips from the movie. The slightly muffled audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0 encoded at 224 kbps.

Behind the Scenes

    A trivial section of footage running for 8:37, without any kind of titles or introduction, which shows some footage from a couple of the scenes in the film. It is presented fullscreen (1.33:1) and is therefore not 16x9 enhanced, with a very rough Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 kbps.

Interviews

    A series of boring interviews with cast and crew stating the obvious and providing no real insight into anything in particular. Each is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 kbps:

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 version of this movie is presented on a pretty bare bones disc, featuring only trailers for some other movies. The Region 4 version would appear to be the better choice if you relish the prospect of the abovementioned extras.

Summary

    Killing Me Softly is a very weak thriller. The basic storyline is unbelievable, the script is poor and the acting decidedly average. It is not hard to see why this was a straight to video release in the USA. Worth a weekly rental at the very best.

    The video quality is good.

    The audio transfer is good, with an accomplished musical score.

    The extras are tedious.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDHarmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX-47P500H 47" Widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

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