I Was Here (Mina olin siin) (2008)

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Released 7-Jul-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 90:18
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (48:15) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By René Vilbre
Studio
Distributor
Amrion
Ovation
Starring Rasmus Kaljujärv
Doris Tislar
Marilyn Jurman
Hele Kõre
Tambet Tuisk
Margus Prangel
Johannes Naan
Märt Avandi
Rafael Jenokjan
Nikolai Bentsler
Jaan Rekkor
Sten Zupping
Anne Reemann
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Jimi Tenor


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown Estonian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/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

     Rass (Rasmus Kaljujarv) is a school student with dreams of becoming a doctor but for now he is living with his girlfriend Sade (Marilyn Jurman) in a squalid tenement. They are completely broke, not even having money for food; to survive Rass engages in petty crime such as stealing petrol for Talis (Nikolai Bentsier). When one theft goes wrong, Rass is chased by the police and he only escapes by crashing Talis’ car, so Talis demands reimbursement from Rass, putting him further into debt. In a bar he meets Olar (Tambet Tuisk), a man just released from gaol who has a stash of drugs; Rass takes them on consignment, dilutes the Meth and with his brother Mossa (Margus Prangel) successfully sells the drugs at school and on the street, making a substantial profit. However, the next stash Olar wants Rass to sell actually belongs to the mob, and they want their drugs back. Having fallen in love with Renita (Hele Kore) Rass wants out. But with the mob on their trail Rass, Mossa, Renita and his friends Janar (Johannes Naan) and Aivo (Mart Avandi), must come up with a plan to pay them off before they all end up dead. Or worse!

     There are not a lot of Estonian films released in this country but if I Was Here (original title Mina olin siin) is anything to judge by it would be great to see more. I Was Here is not a pretty or sanitised film but a compelling and sometimes very brutal real life drama of people living life on the fringes of a prosperous society. Here in this world of shadow is crime, violent men and abused women, but the film is never sordid, or wallows in the depictions of poverty or violence. People have choices, and even the most abused can find defenders and the hope of a better life. Anchoring the film is a wonderful, layered performance from Rasmus Kaljujarv who while he certainly does very bad things still elicits our sympathy and understanding. Indeed, the acting by the entire cast is very good indeed, very natural and very believable and the fact that none of the actors are familiar means that we can never be sure just who might succeed, and live, and who might not.

     In I Was Here director Rene Vilbre has fashioned an exceptional film. The excellent acting, the dark urban locations, the squalid tenements and the electronic rock score all add to a realistic and compelling slice of life that is well worth seeing. The ending is not something that is obvious but is all the more satisfying, and realistic, for that. Bring on more Estonian films!

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Transfer Quality

Video

     I Was Here is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The IMDb does not give the original theatrical ratio, but I’d guess it was 1.85:1 as I did not notice any evidence of cropping.

     This is a good looking print. It is very sharp (except where scenes were deliberately softened, such as those filmed through windows or at a party), contrast and brightness were fine, blacks solid and shadow detail very good. This last is quite important as a lot of this film consists of night scenes. Skin tones and colours were natural and indeed the entire film, in keeping with the subject matter, the tenements and night city locations, has a subdued, muted colour palate that is very effective.

     There is grain evident, but it is not distracting, again adding to the subdued, naturalistic feel of the film. Artefacts are not apparent and aliasing at 20:36 is really the only fault I noticed.

     Lip synchronisation is fine.

     The layer change at 48:15 created a very slight pause.

     The English subtitles are in a clear yellow font but sometimes go past too fast to be read properly. However, the sense is always evident. Other than American spelling there were no spelling or grammatical errors.

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

Audio

     An Estonian Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded audio track at 192 Kbps is the only choice. While nothing special it does an effective job. Dialogue is clear as are the music and effects, mostly rain, thunder or car engines. Some effects and music do occur in the surrounds, the sub kicked in infrequently for music. There were no clicks or drop outs.

     The score consisted of original music by Jimi Tenor plus some rock songs, none of them familiar to me. It is an electronic score that works well in the context of the film.

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

Extras

     Nothing

R4 vs R1

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

     I have searched a number of sites and cannot at this time find any other release of I Was Here (Mina olin siin). We can consider ourselves lucky to have this fine film in Region 4. Well done Ovation.

Summary

     I Was Here is an exceptional film from Estonia. The excellent acting, the dark urban streets, the squalid tenements and the electronic rock score all add to a realistic and compelling slice of life that is well worth seeing. The video is very good, the audio reasonable. There are no extras. If this is the standard, bring on more Estonian films!

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, September 24, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42inch Hi-Def 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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