Raw Deal: A Question of Consent (Rental) (2001)

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Rental Version Only
Available for Rent

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Undead, Crime Spree, For The Moment, Ashes And Sand
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 96:04 (Case: 101)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Billy Corben
Studio
Distributor

Imagine Entertainment
Starring Alice Hendon
Disa Holly
Lisa King
Tony Marzullo
Rod Smith
Michael Yahraus
Billy Corben
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI Rental Music Billy Corben
Eric Ransom
Travis Roig


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 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

Do You Know Rape When You See It?

    Raw Deal: A Question Of Consent is a remarkable documentary. The subject matter is guaranteed to raise heated debate amongst viewers - effectively it asks the questions; when is sex consensual, and can that consent be withdrawn at some point? The topic of "date rape" has been covered before in telemovies galore, but this film is decidedly different. There is no dramatisation here - none whatsoever. The documentary is created from actual footage of the alleged rape. This opens a whole can of worms doesn't it? The possibility for gratuitous exploitation and cheap titillation seem endless...but director Billy Corben skilfully avoids any hint of salaciousness, and delivers a genuine, brave and confronting piece of work.

    In 1999, students at the University of Florida fraternity Delta Chi decided to hire some exotic dancers (a euphemism for strippers) as entertainment during a house party. One of the women who was hired to perform was Lisa Gier King. Early the following morning, Lisa ran from the fraternity house, clad only in a T-shirt and sought shelter in a nearby fraternity. She claimed to have been raped by one of the members of Delta Chi, one Michael Yahraus.

    After her grandmother was called to extract her from the closet in which she had hidden herself, she made a statement to the campus police. Initially, the police sprang to her aid, returning to Delta Chi and questioning several of the male occupants. As it happens, the events which she described had been captured on two hand-held video cameras by members of the house. These tapes were viewed, and the judge involved decreed that there was no evidence of anything other than consensual sex taking place. In an incredible, unheard of turn of events, King was then arrested and charged with filing a false police report. Within a couple of days, the case turned into a circus with endless media coverage. Even more incredibly, the video tapes of the alleged rape were then made accessible to the public, resulting in copies being distributed around the campus - and indeed even being sold over the Internet. Corben has combined the footage from the actual tapes with interviews with King and many others involved in the case from politicians, judges and social services to the members of Delta Chi who actually took the video footage.

    This documentary provides a sobering look inside the fraternity houses of American college campuses. I found the shenanigans fairly shocking even without the subsequent claims of rape. This is not the keg-drinking, guitar strumming world of Animal House hi-jinks - this is sordid and alarming. As to the specifics of this story - did a rape take place or not? - the footage might be considered equivocal by some. Mrs King does not make for a sympathetic victim - she is a married mother who took up stripping to earn some extra cash. The fraternity "brothers" do themselves and their University no favours either - they come across as a bunch of spoiled, middle-class brats with a revolting lack of respect for others. What truly beggars belief, however, is the fact that the video footage was released for public viewing by Judge Chance, when he decided there was nothing in the footage which showed Mrs King as a victim of sexual battery.

    The "silver lining" to this cloud of judicial ineptitude is that the footage has been used to create a well made documentary, which will definitely make you re-assess your views on what constitutes rape. Personally, I changed my opinion as to the "truth" behind the story several times during the running time of the piece. My own preconceptions and prejudices were certainly challenged by this film and at the end of it, I had formed my own views on the truth of the case, and the way in which it was handled by the Florida authorities. This is confronting material - not for the nudity, language, teenage behaviour or even the sex, but for the questions it raises about acceptable behaviour, political positioning and trial by media. A riveting, if sometimes uncomfortable, watch recommended for those who are prepared to stomach some rather confronting footage, and are prepared to think carefully about what they are watching.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality of this transfer, whilst variable, is surprisingly good considering the disparate nature of the source materials.

    The video is presented non 16x9 enhanced at 1.33:1 which is the original aspect ratio. Much of the original material is taken from 8mm digital camcorder footage and television news coverage. The additional documentary footage is suitably sharp and fairly well lit, but the Delta Chi material is understandably somewhat grainy and of more patchy quality. Overall, the transfer is acceptably sharp given the limitations of the source footage.

    Black levels are fairly deep but shadow detail is understandably rather limited. Colours are generally adequate (if a little washed out) in the documentary footage, but understandably more muddy in the poorly lit Delta Chi footage. Skin tones are variable depending on the source material, but never really awful.

    There is some pixelisation present but this is not too distracting given the nature of the material. Edge enhancement was frequently noticeable as a bright halo around characters, but the story is so engrossing that it never becomes distracting. Aliasing is present mostly as a shimmer in the image, and is most noticeable in the usual suspects of car chrome, Venetian blinds, air conditioner grilles and the like. Again, it isn't overly distracting.

    Film (video) artefacts are present occasionally, but not disturbingly so.

    There are no subtitles available, other than those occasionally burned into the footage.

    This disc is single sided and dual layered (DVD 9 formatted) but I did not observe a layer change.

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

Audio

    The overall audio transfer is perfectly serviceable.

    The sole audio track is presented in English Dolby Digital 2.0 encoded at 224 kbps. The surround flag is not enabled. Dialogue is almost always clear, but the Delta Chi footage contains some slurred and mumbled speech. I noticed no significant problems with audio sync.

    The original music is credited to Billy Corben, Eric Ransom and Travis Roig who all seem to be making their debut as film score composers. The music is fairly unremarkable, serving as little more than background noise.

    The soundstage is frontal and dialogue intensive. There is really nothing in the way of surround or subwoofer activity - and that is appropriate for the film in question.

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

Extras

    There are negligible extras on this disc.

Menu

    The main menu allows the selection of playing the movie, choosing one of twelve chapter stops and watching the following extra features:

Trailer

    Presented non-anamorphically enhanced in a letterboxed 1.78:1 format with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 kbps and running for 2:51.

Imagine Trailers

    Four additional trailers for Imagine releases are available:

R4 vs R1

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

    This film does not appear to be available on DVD in Region 1 or Region 2.

Summary

    Raw Deal: A Question Of Consent is a groundbreaking documentary, strictly for adults only. The story it tells is remarkable in itself - an alleged, and vigorously denied, rape. The fact that the actual incident is captured on videotape and is available for you to watch is disconcerting, but ultimately it allows you to make up your own mind about the way that this case was handled. Not an easy film to watch at times, but a very challenging piece of work. Recommended for a mature audience that is prepared to deal with a painful subject. One of the most thought-provoking pieces of cinema I can remember seeing.

    The video quality is variable, but is perfectly adequate given the constraints of the source material.

    The audio transfer is adequate for a documentary.

    There are minimal extras present, purely in the form of trailers.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Sunday, January 04, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDHarmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using Component output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
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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