Written by: Michael Den Boer on November 29th, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: UK / USA, 1998
Director: Michael Radford
Writers: Chloe King, Michael Radford, Michael Thomas
Cast: Asia Argento, Jared Harris, Rupert Everett, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Julie T. Wallace, Ian Hart, Tim Woodward
DVD released: November 15th, 2011
Approximate running time: 92 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
DVD Release: Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $6.99
Synopsis: A talented young thief with a wild side, tries to put her former life behind her, when she falls in love with a school teacher.
For any filmmaker, one of the hardest obstacles to overcome is their previous films and the long shadows that they often cast. B. Monkey was directed by Michael Radford, who’s other notable films include Nineteen Eighty-Four, The Merchant of Venice and what is arguably his crowning achievement as a filmmaker Il Postino: The Postman (which also happens to be the film that he made before B. Monkey).
It should be noted that Michael Radford was not original director slated to direct B. Monkey, he replaced Michael Caton-Jones (This Boy’s Life, City by the Sea), who reportedly left the film, when the producers refused to cast Sophie Okonedo in the role of Beatrice aka B. Monkey.
The screenplay for B. Monkey was co-written by Andrew Davies, he also wrote the novel from which the screenplay had been adapted. He is a prolific screenwriter, who has adapted numerous novels for the silver screen, with some of his more notable adaptations being The Tailor of Panama and The Bridget Jones Dairy.
Narrative wise, B. Monkey does not come out of the gate that smoothly, with the two main characters Beatrice and Alan (the man she falls in love with) their back-stories not being given enough time to settle in and resonate. Fortunately after this initial bump in the narrative road, things tend to move along and evolve at a much better pace. And the narrative finally hits its stride once it shifts it focus more towards Beatrice and Alan’s burgeoning love affair. Also while there is a predictability to what is unfolding on the screen once the film shifts more towards a romantic love story. One should not underestimate this films narrative and what is has in store for the viewers for its riveting finale act.
Being that this film is a character driven melodrama, it should not come as a surprise that entire cast are all very good in their respective roles. And if any one performance should be singled out, it would have to be Jared Harris (I Shot Andy Warhol), who’s understated performance gives a welcomed balanced to the more operatic performances from the majority of the cast. Of course Asia Argento (The Stendhal Syndrome) is also extremely good in the role of the enigmatic Beatrice ‘B. Monkey’. Another performance of note is Rupert Everett (Cemetery Man) in the role of Paul, Beatrice’s sexually indiscriminate mentor.
When viewed by the sum of its parts, B. Monkey has all the ingredients that should have made a much better film then what ended up on screen. And while there are a handful of sublime moments, it is ultimately the moments that don’t work that prevent it from reaching its full potential.
Echo Bridge Home Entertainment presents B. Monkey is an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original aspect ratio. This movie was originally released on DVD in 2000 by Miramax and the transfer used for this release is comparable to that aforementioned release. Though colors fare well, there are a handful of instances where they bleed into each other, flesh tones look healthy, black levels look at best ok and details look crisp. It should be noted that there is edge enhancement that varies in degree throughout and there are a few moments where it is very noticeable.
This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in English. The dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced, with the music and effects benefiting most from this audio mix. However anyone expecting anything remotely dynamic, will be disappointed with the range of this audio mix.
This release comes with no extra content, only basic menu that offers to options ‘Play Movie’ or ‘Chapter Selection’. Overall B. Monkey gets a audio / video presentation from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment that is on par with their other Miramax re-releases.