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Evelyn (Blu-ray Review)

EvelynInspired by a custody case brought before the Irish courts in 1955, that of  Desmond Doyle and his fight in the Irish courts to be reunited with his children.  The film was directed by Bruce Deresford (Driving Miss Daisy) and starred Pierce Brosnan (GoldenEye, Die Another Day, TV’s Remington Steele), Julianna Marguiles (Ghost Ship, TV’s The Good Wife, TV’s ER), Alan Bates (Women in Love, An Unmarried Woman, Nijinsky), Stephen Rea (The Crying Game, Interview with the Vampire, V for Vendetta), Aidan Quinn (Legends of the Fall, The Mission, TV’s Elementary).  Rounding out the cast of talented actors is Sophie Vavasseur (Becoming Jane) as Evelyn, the little girl who won the hearts of a nation. Evelyn is directed by Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy) from a screenplay written by Paul Pender (The Bogie Man). The film saw a limited release in the US.  Its debuting on Blu-ray from Olive Films on February 21.

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Film 

Inspired by a custody case brought before the Irish courts in 1955, Eveyln follows Desmond Doyle, a father fighting for the custody of his three children after abandonment by their mother. Due to the Irish law of the time, children could not be raised by one parent in what the courts considered “a broken home,” thus allowing the Doyle children to be placed in church-run orphanages, where neglect and cruelty were not out of the ordinary. Desmond, with the help of the kindly chemist and love interest, a local solicitor, and two tough-as-nails lawyers, will take his fight to the highest courts to win their freedom.

Ah…the old kids in the courtroom subgenre of legal movies.  Always an easy sell, and an easy win.  This one is based on a true case though.  It shines the light on an odd law in Ireland back in the 50s and the court case that changed the way things were done.  The film brings to light how a high profile case was done back then, but also one from Ireland which I really know nothing about.  The movie isn’t very intense and is mainly on the soft side of things in an ABC Family friendly kind of way.

For me, the draw is obviously Pierece Brosnan.  I’m a big fan of his and he did this movie the same year we celebrated the 40th anniversary of (the cinematic) James Bond.  As you can imagine this is both quite a different film and role.  But, Brosnan is quite good and maybe the best part of the film as he has to range from aggression, to sloppy drunk and also lonely caring father.  I don’t think it was, but it could have been an Oscar attempt for him.  Matching wits and being terrific herself is Julianna Marguiles, who doesn’t do much film, but still shines where ever it is she displays her talents.

Evelyn for the most part is a bit ho hum.  Where its probably best suited is a more an all ages family affair.  Not one you need to look back at, study or recommend.  Unless you’re studying the career of Pierce Brosnan, there’s no real area to check it out.  Though, it was his last movie until 2004’s After The Sunset.  He’d bring some big buzz however with his Bond exit and the acclaim from the the film The Matador (Which I actually do highly recommend). This one, though, is forgettable.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Layers: BD-25

Clarity/Detail:  The film comes to Blu-ray with an unimpressive average looking picture that is overall darkened and murky in appearance.  I wonder if this is just an upconvert from the DVD master.  Details aren’t very strong here and overall I think people going into this might be let down.  Its not an awful picture, but one that really could look so much better and possibly fuller and brighter, too.

Depth:  Evelyn features a bit flatter of an image.  It almost feels like a DVD upconvert here.  No environments really impress.  Movements are decent with some, but minimal, blurring effect.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and do their job and not much else.  Detail is hidden on black colored things as well as in the shadows and shading.  I couldn’t find specific instances of crushing during the review, but wouldn’t surprise me if some were found.

Color Reproduction:  This film is heavy on browns and more rustic colors like burgundy.  The murky image doesn’t allow for much pop, having stuff like green grass still appear dingy.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and maintain a consistent appearance throughout the duration of the film from scene to scene. Detail is more abundant in close-ups than any further out, as it seems to smooth or block up.  Stubble, wrinkles, scars and the like show up good.

Noise/Artifacts: There is a nice layer of grain and a bit of noise in scenes in the film

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  Evelyn comes with a rather standard or average 5.1 track.  The film doesn’t really ask for much in terms of its script.  This track is more front heavy and dialogue driven if anything.  Sound effects, mainly foley, do sound pretty natural and distinct for what its worth.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  Engines humming, doors slamming and other deep sounds get a little boost.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Not much from the rear speakers in this mix.  Mainly ambiance if they do get to play.  Action is well calculated and displayed in the front 3 channels with decent volume placement for the proceedings.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is loud, accurate and audible.

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Extras 

The featurettes on here feel like they’ve been cropped from 4:3 to 16:9 for this release.  They are SD and the framing on them feels really off and zoomed.  Image is really dark and dingy in appearance.

Audio Commentary – Per a note included in my copy, “Some blu-ray players may experience slower than normal functionality when accessing the audio commentaries located in the extras menu of Evelyn. We appreciate your patience.”

  • With Director Bruce Beresford
  • WIth Actor Pierce Brosnan and Producer Beau St. Clair

Evelyn: Behind the Scenes (SD, 21:13) – Your basic making of with cast and crew interviews. Its ported over from the previous DVD release.

‘Evelyn’ The Story Behind the Story (SD, 19:09) – This goes over the true events that the film was based on.

Trailer (SD, 2:18)

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Summary 

Evelyn is much better suited when your expectations are that of a TV movie. Its harmless, though ultimately forgettable.  This Blu-ray comes with rather average presentation in both audio and video, with the latter proving to be kind of disappointing.  Extras from a previous release are ported over, but look like they’ve been cropped/zoomed and a very unhandsome quality and framing to them.  If you’re a fan of this movie and its cheap, pick it up.  Other than that, if you want to watch it, see if its available to stream or rent.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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