Written by: Michael Den Boer on January 31st, 2015
BluRay released: January 26th, 2015
Approximate running time: 98 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen /1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD Stereo Japanese
BluRay Release: Third Window Films
Region Coding: Region B (UK)
Retail Price: £13.99
Themes explored in the film include loneliness, consumerism, voyeurism, religion, jealously and anger. It is this film’s protagonists own loneliness due to the way she was raised and subsequently abandoned by her parents that sets in motion her need to find others like herself. And since the moment her mother left her she has been obsessed with ordering things from the home shopping network. Not quite ready to connect with anyone just yet, so she uses voyeurism as her way of being close to those she is draw too. Then when her moment of serenity arrives it is taken away by another young woman who is spreading the word of god. And jealously comes into to play when feels like someone is trying to change and take the thing that she now holds the dearest. Now cornered she unleashes her angered towards anyone and everyone who stands in her way of getting back to her place of serenity.
Content wise, this film has two distinctive half’s to its narrative. The first half of the film which introduces all the main players and establishes their motivations? Where the second half of the focuses on the consequences of their actions. And tone wise when it comes to these two halves. With the first half being a black comedy that has all the quirky traits that have become synonymous with modern Japanese cinema, while the second half of the film being a horror / comedy hybrid that often verges into slapstick humor.
There is not a single area where this film is lacking or where it does not excel. The film’s visuals are consistently strong throughout and they great add to the tone of the film. Pacing is never an issue as thing move along briskly. And from a performance stand point there entire cast are great in their respective roles. With this film’s most memorable performance coming from Kumi Takiuchi (The Ravine of Goodbye), in the role of this film’s protagonist Nami. She is given the formidable task of portraying a character with virtually no redeeming qualities and in the end it is her character that is the most endearing. Other performances of note include Takashi Sasano (Love and Honor) in the role of Mr. Shiomi, an elderly man who has become the center of Nami’s universe and Kim Kkobbi (Breathless, Pluto) in the role of a Christian Missionary, whose visits have given Mr. Shiomi a new outlook on life.
Greatful Dead comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. This source materials are in very good shape and this transfer does a great job retaining the intended look of the film. Black and contrast levels look good throughout, colors and flesh tones look accurate and details look crisp. Also grain looks natural, DNR is kept in check and there are no issues with compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD stereo Japanese and removable English subtitles have been provided with this release. There are no issues with background noise or distortion, dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. Range wise things sounds very good as they more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented.
Extras for this release are limited to an interview with co-screenwriter / director Eiji Uchida (22 minutes 6 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen). Topics discussed in the interview include, the origins of the screenplay, how there are a vast number of topics that are explored in this film, casting, he also discusses how the film evolved from screenplay to what ended up onscreen, the difficulty of making a Black Comedy in Japan, how events form his own life played a role in the themes that he explores in this film, the film’s finale and what he was trying to achieve and his final thoughts on the film. Overall Greatful Dead gets a solid release from Third Window Films, Highly recommended.
Note: This film is also being released by Third Window Films on DVD.