February 11, 2008
| by Marshal Rosenthal
Considering how straightforward a crime drama can be told - two young detectives looking into the the disappearance of a little girl - it’s surprising just how non-linear the path to finding her becomes. This is due to the plot being as much about the motive of those involved, rather than just the unfolding of events. To say it is emotionally disturbing is more than fair. Of the actors, Casey Affleck (brother to director/actor Ben) is spot-on as are Morgan Freeman and the always intriguing Ed Harris. But the entire cast performs well in inhabiting a world of ugliness which avoids the banality most would expect in a “Hollywood” film.
The main value of high-definition here is to pull us “through” the window so that we can get up close and personal - rather than sitting on the other side with complete passivity. It’s the little touches that do this; fine details on clothing, irregularities of faces and all the imperfections of the world that draw the viewer into the film’s reality. This is aided by a precisely crafted atmosphere from the audio (in this case the PCM works fine but is just as easily replaced by standard Dolby Surround without creating any problems).
Bonus features mix both high-def and standard resolution and consist of well-worn additions like featurettes, deleted scenes and audio commentaries by both the director and writer. Of all this, probably the most interesting is the extended ending as it provides a chance for the film (and director) to stretch just a little farther in making a point.
And while perhaps not the best choice for Valentine’s Day (romantic comedies seem to have the lock on this), it’s certainly worth watching with your significant other.