Thursday, March 12, 2020

The Passion of Darkly Noon (1995) Arrow Video Blu Ray Review

The Passion of Darkly Noon (1995) Arrow Video March 24th 2020

Directed By: Philip Ridley

Starring: Ashley Judd, Brendan Fraser, Viggo Mortensen, Loren Dean, Lou Myers,Grace Zabriskie

     I am a huge fan of Philip Ridley's feature film debut The Reflecting Skin (1990) a incredibly creepy and unsettling take on the vampire lore. If you havent seen it I  highly recommend it. Ridley's second feature The Passion of Darkly Noon (1995) has made its way onto Blu Ray from Arrow Video. A country girl named Callie (Ashley Judd) takes in a young man named Darkly Noon (Brendan Fraser) who seems injured and confused. She learns that Darkly was part of a religious cult that was raided by the government (very much a reflection of Waco) where he witness's his parents being shot and killed. Despite the two being very different they form a strange bond and she and her boyfriend Clay (Viggo Mortensen) seem to adopt him. Things seem idyllic until Darkly meets a woman in the woods named Roxy (Grace Zabriskie) who tells him some disturbing news about the people he is living with.

    Similar to Reflecting Skin Philip throws us the audience into a world that looks and feels real but there is always something off, rotten even just under the surface. Characters are sometimes realistic and other times over-the-top giving everything a sort of dream like quality. Adding to this is the film's visual style. Ridley uses a lot of natural lighting and everything is so bright at times the picture almost washes out. This works to films advantage as it helps give this hot oppressive feeling to the outside scenes but also adds to the other worldly feeling. Everything is given a bigger scope by the use of a lot outdoor scenes and the end result is the backdrop to something beautiful but also eerie. Its a testament to the directors genius that he can take a paper thin premise yet elevates the entire thing with a sharp visual style , a brilliant and moody soundtrack with a sprinkle of vague supernatural happenings. There is a mention of a possible witch which given the forest setting lends to a adult fairy tale vibe.

The film also boosts an impressive cast of up and coming stars.
Brendan Fraser stars as the titular character. Fraser coasts a lot on his his country boy 'awe shucks' charm and innocent look but still  gives a compelling performances that is at times sympathetic and heartbreaking and spirals into down right terrifying. Not long after this he would later go onto more family friend films like George of the Jungle (1997) and of course headline The Mummy (1999) franchise. Here however we get to see a raw and daring performance  and we get a rare glimpse of his acting abilities when he is given something challenging and dark to work with, While I think his personality works best within the context of high flying action or comedy its great to see this side of the actor. Its a shame we never got to see other unhinged roles from the actor. Also turning in an early performance is Ashley Judd. Judd is equally as good and while I think she holds her own with her co-stars I think her acting has improved since this film. And of course Viggo Mortensen in a role that is great especially when you consider he hate to play the character mute. Twin Peaks actor and all around national treasure Grace Zabriskie also has a small but unforgettable role.

Strange, poetic with a finale that is hard to forget The Passion of Darkly Noon makes a wonderful follow up to The Reflecting Skin and both are worth not only seeing but owning.

    I am obsessed with Arrow Video because they not only do A-title releases like Robo Cop but also smaller indie films like Darkly Noon and treat both with equal amounts of love. Picture wise the film is remastered in 2k and looks great. Its also worth noting that the picture was approved by the director himself. I mentioned the film has such a interesting visual style so I am happy to see Arrow involved the director in the look of the film. Sound wise is also very strong with both a 2.0 and 5.1 DTS-HD track. This really helps highlight the great sound design and incredible score by English composer Nick Bicat. I was also very pleased to see the extras include a lot of new material. Of course the highlight being a brand-new commentary by the director Philip Ridley. Also included is a new interview with Nick Bicat and editor Leslie Healey. Rounding out the features is a great 2015  featurette with interviews with Ridley, Nick Bicat and Viggo Mortensen. Rounding out the features is a isolated soundtrack (includes new and extended music cues and two songs cut from the film) as well as an image galley and trailer. Also included is a booklet with a career retrospective by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas.

Should be considered a must own!

Hopefully Philip Ridley's third and so far final film Heartless (2009) has yet to make a appearance on Blu Ray in the states but hopefully that will change soon.

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