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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
On the Edge (2001)

On the Edge (2001)

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Released 11-Sep-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama dts Trailer
Theatrical Trailer
Production Notes
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 81:51
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (61:32) Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John Carney
Universal Focus
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Cillian Murphy
Tricia Vessey
Jonathan Jackson
Stephen Rea
Alison Coffey
Paul Hickey
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/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 English
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     Where did this little gem sneak in from? I'd heard virtually nothing about this little Indie offering from Hell's Kitchen Productions, and only opted to review it on some serendipitous whim. It's an absolute little corker. I might have known had I thought about it - Hell's Kitchen is responsible for the wonderful My Left Foot - one of my all-time favourite films. And its origins from that same stable are clearly apparent in this production. The writing is fresh, vibrant and credible, the performances are subtle and textured and the storyline manages to avoid maudlin clichés in spite of its well-used plot premise. The film centres on the theme of teen suicide and mental dysfunction - which inevitably draws comparisons to such films as Girl, Interrupted and even the recently reviewed, Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself. But while Girl was little more than a vehicle for Angelina Jolie, this piece has a genuine rhythm and a connectedness that escalates it above the normal teen fare. It even has the cheek to dare us to compare it with Good Will Hunting, then blithely surpasses it with its understated and fresh style.

      Jonathan Breech (Cillian Murphy in a remarkable performance) is a street smart teenaged Dubliner whose father has just died. Having already suffered the loss of his mother at the tender age of ten, he resists all his older brother's well intentioned remonstrations and lives life hard "on the edge." His self-destructive behaviour spirals increasingly out of control, ultimately leading to a melodramatic suicide attempt. Upon waking with nothing but a broken baby finger, he agrees to submit himself to three months live-in psychiatric care. His acerbic wit and outspokenness alienate him from most, with the exception of the enigmatic and troubled Rachel (Tricia Vessey) and the gentle young Toby (Jonathan Jackson). Overseen by the patient but often fatalistic guardianship of Doctor Figure (the magnificent Stephen Rea) the trio form a deep bond that is both affirming but dangerous.

     The charm of this film stems largely from the excellent performances wrought from a young but eminently capable cast. The script is witty, sardonic and edgy and the soundtrack is absolutely fantastic. It does not shy away from the tragedies and inconsistencies of young lives out of control, but neither does it make that the sum total of the characters. Its comic moments are freshly ironic and believable and it has the right amount of energy to carry the plot.

     This is a clever and engaging little film which does not resort to chocolate box sentimentality. Its conclusion is satisfyingly ambiguous - balanced between optimism for the characters' futures and the recognition that things will not be easy for them. I heartily recommend this little sleeper, particularly to those who enjoyed such films as My Left Foot, The Commitments and other character-driven treats.

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Transfer Quality


     The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 16x9 enhanced.

     Mercifully, this little Indie pic has been given a rather decent transfer treatment. The disc renders a clean crisp image with excellent detail and good contrast levels. There is no low level noise and shadow detail is fine.

     The colour range is not exceptional, but this is Ireland after all, where light is frequently distilled through a misty filter. The somewhat monochrome palette in no way interferes or is at odds with the story line, and there are occasional bursts of colour to liven up the screen. Skin tones are consistently accurate.

     With the exception of some very minor aliasing and the hint of motion blur, this transfer is relatively artefact free. The disc's grain levels are well within acceptable levels and there is little evidence of dust specks throughout. Occasionally it appears that some edge enhancement exists, but I did not find it distracting.

     Subtitles were quite extensive, and whilst getting one's ear attuned to the often quite dense Irish accents, were quite welcome. Occasionally, the titles were a little predictive, but they were at least accurate.

     This disc is an RSDL disc, with an imperceptible layer change present at 61:32.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     There are two audio tracks on this DVD. The default is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. There is also a DTS 5.1 soundtrack that just about bursts out of the speakers during the amazing soundtrack!

     The dialogue was, as discussed previously, quite broguey, which can take the ear a little time to tune into. However, it was rendered pin sharp and crisp with no audio sync problems detected at all.

     Liz Gallacher's job as musical supervisor is to be applauded in this feature - the music was edgy, vibey and an amazing contribution to the end result. It captures one's attention from the first frame and enhances the entire experience. Further to this, the original music used in the film is by the director, John Carney, who was once a member of the Irish band The Frames. Is this available as a soundtrack? It should be!

     The surround channels and the subwoofer got a thorough work-out in this production - a factor I thoroughly enjoyed, although the neighbours may have a different idea about that! The audio is crisp, punchy and a character in the film - really well done and satisfying.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



     The menu is silent and static and barely gives any clues as to the delights that are to follow. However, it is at least clean and easy to navigate.

Trailer (1:54)

Production Notes

     These are a genuinely interesting collection of facts and background to the story.

Biographies - Cast & Crew

     Static pages on Cillian Murphy, Tricia Vessey, Stephen Rea, Jonathan Jackson and John Carney (Director).

R4 vs R1

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

     Both versions appear equally good, and there is no compelling reason to prefer one over the other - it's really only a regional choice.


     This remarkable little film is fresh, witty and completely devoid of conventional Hollywoodisms. The characters are not sentimentalised beyond tolerance and consequently, we can embrace them with genuine goodwill. It is strangely optimistic without being saccharin and outstandingly touching. A lovely little find and well worth a look.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Mirella Roche-Parker (read my bio)
Thursday, April 15, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDSinger SGD-001, using S-Video output
DisplayTeac 76cm Widescreen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTeac 5.1 integrated system
SpeakersTeac 5.1 integrated system

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