Written by: Giuseppe Rijitano on May 5th, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: USA, April 29th 2007
Director: Jieho Lee
Writers: Jieho Lee (written by) & Bob DeRosa (written by)
Cast: Forest Whitaker, Brenda Fraser, Andy Garcia, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Emile Hirsch, Julie Delpy, Kevin Bacon.
BluRay released: May 20th, 2008
Approximate running time: 95 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: English DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 5.1 Surround, English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
BluRay Release: Image Entertainment
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $35.98
A multi-narrative tale of interconnected characters based on a Chinese proverb that breaks life down into four emotions, the film is essentially made of up four interweaving vignettes.
First up is Happiness (Forest Whitaker) a lonely, miserable stockbroker that desperately hates his life decides to risk it all by betting on a horse named Butterfly, a sure-thing that doesn’t go to plan and leaves him at the mercy of unhinged gangster Fingers (Andy Garcia).
Next up; Pleasure (Brendan Fraser) a debt collector for Fingers that has the ability to see the future and is emotionally scarred by an incident from his childhood. In the process of teaching Fingers’ nephew (Emile Hirsch) the family business he has an epiphany of sorts when he discovers that for the first time ever he was mistaken in one if his predictions.
Then; Sorrow (Sarah Michelle Gellar) a rising pop star. Her manager, deeply in debt to Fingers due to his gambling, is forced to give over Sorrow’s contract to the gangster. When she tries to quit Fingers gets violent and sends his man Pleasure over to keep her in check. Sorrow and Pleasure make a connection and begin to fall in love.
And finally; Love (Kevin Bacon) a doctor that endures an unrequited love for his best friend’s wife, Gina (Julie Delpy), who is bitten by a snake and needs a blood transfusion within 24 hours if she is to survive. Unfortunately her blood type is ultra rare, but shared by Sorrow.
If all that sounds a bit pretentious and ridiculous well that’s because it pretty much is. Forgivable only when the ever watchable Forest Whitaker is onscreen. He gives a brilliant performance in the first vignette as jittery, sweaty, stuttery, suicidal Happiness menaced by deranged Andy Garcia but unfortunately Happiness gives way all too soon to Pleasure and the stony faced deep rumbling mumblings of Brendan Fraser with Emile Hirsch’s irritating jumped up wannabe gangster in tow and the film never really recovers. Along comes eternally miserable sourpuss Sarah Michelle Gellar, aptly named character, to further depress proceedings. But there is a little light at the end of the tunnel thanks to a breathless last reel performance by Kevin Bacon. It’s a well worn Babel–Crash-style script with a more obvious spiritual kick in that this one clearly shows the supposed nature of fate coming full circle – but it’s all a bit confused, is it supposed to be taken as a parable or fairy-tale or what? In the end it’s a slickly produced, visually interesting but only mildly entertaining film.
Technically proficient 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer, looks good but not spectacular due to a slight lack of fine detail. Impressive DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, well balanced, the dialogue is a little quiter than necessary in relation to ambient and score but not distractingly so.
Extras include a commentary featuring director/co-writer Jieho Lee, co-writer Bob Derosa, director of photography Walt Lloyd and editor Robert Hoffman – the participants are all quite animated in their love of the film (which took them 6 years to get made apparently) and their director. Plus a handful of very short deleted scenes that contain nothing of note, a short outtakes sequence and a theatrical trailer – all in standard def.