Written by: Michael Den Boer on November 30th, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: UK / Canada, 1990
Director: Philip Ridley
Writer: Philip Ridley
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Lindsay Duncan, Jeremy Cooper, Sheila Moore, Duncan Fraser, David Longworth, Robert Koons, David Bloom
BluRay released: November 30th, 2015
Approximate running times: 96 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Stereo English
BluRay Release: Soda Pictures
Region Coding: Region B (UK)
Retail Price: £14.99 (UK)
The plot for The Reflecting Skin is essentially the protagonists’ memories from when he was an eight year old boy. And though the film is shown entirely from his point of view. There are moments where he is interacting with someone and they do not see everything that he sees. Most notably a black Cadillac that picks up people from the protagonists life and they are never seen again alive.
Another key figure in this film’s narrative a widow named Dolphin Blue who are often terrorized by the protagonist and his friends. In one scene they shoot a blown up bull frog as she walks by and the aftermath of this dead leaves her face covered in blood. Also when it comes to the character of Dolphin Blue the protagonist believes that she is a vampire and he does everything in his power to keep her from turning his brother Cameron into a vampire.
Needless to say getting from point A to Z is not an easy task and those who are patient will be rewarded with a deeply profound cinematic experience unlike anything that you have ever seen before. And when it comes to this film’s narrative it is at least presented in a straight forward way where there is a clear progression in the evolution of the protagonist. With that being said, there is a tremendous amount of subtext that runs throughout this film and the more you unveil the deeper this film will resonate.
From a production standpoint there is not an area where this film does not excel and then some. Right from the get go it quickly becomes apparent just how important visuals are to the granger scheme of things. With this film’s most striking moment being the scene where the protagonist witnesses the death of his father, who covers his body in gasoline and lights himself on fire. And when it comes to pacing there is never an issue as things are always moving forward at brisk momentum.
Performance wise the entire cast are all good in their respective roles. With this film’s most surThe Passion of Darkly Noonprising performance coming from Jeremy Cooper in the role this film’s protagonist Seth Dove. The weight of this film is on the shoulders of his performance which far exceeds expectations, especially for someone who is making their feature film debut. Other notable performances include Viggo Mortensen (A History of Violence) in the role of Seth’s older brother Cameron and Lindsay Duncan (Prick Up Your Ears) in the role Dolphin Blue, the widow who is suspected of being a vampire.
The Reflecting Skin comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. This release marks the first time that this film has ever been officially released on Blu-Ray and the transfer used for this release was sourced and restored from original vault elements. Colors have never looked more vibrant, black levels and shadow details are consistently strong and details look sharp throughout. Also grain looks natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM stereo mix in English and removable English subtitles have been included with this release. There are no issues with background noise or hiss and dialog always comes through clearly. Range and depth wise this audio mix delivers in spades on these two fronts and when it comes to the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack these moments are well represented.
Extras for this release include, a poster & art gallery, a stills gallery, a trailer for the film (2 minutes 26 seconds), an alternate trailer (2 minutes 24 seconds), a ‘Making of’ documentary titled ‘Angels & Atom Bombs: The Making of The Reflecting Skin’ (43 minutes 41 seconds) and an audio commentary with screenwriter / director Phillip Ridley.
Topics discussed in the ‘Making of’ documentary include, how The Reflecting Skin is a type of films that has no middle ground, inspirations for the film, The Krays and his contribution to the screenplay, the look of the film and how they were able to achieve the look they desired, how Andrew Wyeth’s paintings influenced the look of the film, the cast, locations featured in the film, exploding frogs and special effects, key moments in the film are discussed in-depth, the film’s score, critical reaction to the film and its subsequent cult following and creating a brand new 2k master for the film.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, things that inspired the film, how they were able to achieve and create a distinctive visual look, locations featured in the film, casting and his thoughts on their performances, the screenplay and changes that were made before filming began, how the film was originally set to be shot in august of 1988 and why the film had to be delayed a year, his thoughts on the film and its ending.
Other extras include two short films ‘The Universe of Dermot Finn’ (11 minutes 16 seconds) and ‘Visiting Mr. Break’ (21 minutes 8 seconds), introductions to each short film – ‘The Universe of Dermot Finn’ introduction with Phillip Ridley (2 minutes), ‘Visiting Mr. Beak’ introduction with Phillip Ridley (3 minutes 30 seconds) and a featurette titled ‘Dreaming Darkly’ (16 minutes 14 seconds).
Topics discussed in the introduction for ‘The Universe of Dermot Finn’ include, the origins of the project, the cast and how this short film made its debut at Cannes.
Topics discussed in the introduction for ‘Visiting Mr. Beak’ include, the origins of the project, how this was his first film that he shot on 35mm, how it was shot over two days, similarities between Visiting Mr. Beak and The Reflecting Skin, how all film materials for this film have been lost and only a VHS master exists.
Topics discussed in the extra tilted ‘Dreaming Darkly’ include, The Passion of Darkly Noon and was inspired him to make this film, how The Passion of Darkly Noon are thematically linked with The Reflecting Skin and Heartless and various other artistic endeavors that Phillip Ridley has created outside of cinema. Other topics include Viggo Mortensen discussing how he prepared for the character he portrayed and collaborating with Phillip Ridley. Also the film scores for The Passion of Darkly Noon and Heartless are discussed in-depth.
Rounding out the extras is a Phillip Ridley signed art card and trailers for other titles also available from Soda Pictures. Overall The Reflecting Skin gets a definitive release from Soda Pictures, highly recommended.