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Martin Koolhaven
Fedja van Huêt, Carice van Houten, Theo Maassen
Writing Credits:
Martin Koolhaven

A photographer returns to his parental home because his mother is seriously ill.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
Dutch DTS-HD MA 5.1
Dutch Dolby 5.1
Dutch LPCM Stereo
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 89 min.
Price: $39.98
Release Date: 4/11/2023

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Martin Koolhoven and Actor Fedja van Huêt
• Introduction with Writer/Director Martin Koolhoven
• “A Conversation with Martin Koolhaven and Carice Van Houten” Featurette
• “The Making of AmnesiA” Featurette
• “Behind the Scenes” Featurette
• Two TV Movies
• Trailers


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-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


AmnesiA [Blu-Ray] (2001)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 4, 2023)

Did I ever see 2001’s AmnesiA before this 2023 Blu-ray arrived on my door? If so, I forgot!

Ha ha ha! Ugh.

Out of nowhere, photographer Alex (Fedja van Huêt) finds it impossible to ply his trade. Every time he attempts to focus the lens, an image of a mysterious woman appears before his eyes and disrupts his ability to shoot pictures.

In the midst of this professional – and psychological – crisis, Alex gets a call from his long-estranged brother Aram (van Huêt) to learn that their mother (Sacha Bulthuis) seems sick. Accompanied by the mysterious Sandra (Carice van Houten), Alex returns home for the first time in years and confronts a mix of lingering issues.

Writer/director Martin Koolhoven provides an introduction to AmnesiA during which he bemoans his belief that few picked up on his desire to make it a black comedy. While I get his point, I also can’t fault viewers who missed his attempts at humor.

When AmnesiA attempts chuckles, it does so in a modest, understated way. No one should expect “laugh out loud” moments here, as the movie’s surreal vibe ensures any potential humor remains subtle and easy to miss.

AmnesiA seems likely to intrigue the audience mainly from the desire to figure out what’s real and what’s not. From the start, we understand Alex comes with mental issues, and this casts the rest of the story in light of questionable reality.

For instance, Sandra appears literally out of nowhere – and does so right after Alex nods off for a moment. This appears to imply much – all? – or the remaining material occurs as a dream.

The quirky nature of the rest of the film also might push in that direction. Characters tend to behave in unnatural ways that don’t make much sense in the waking world.

Still, matters don’t go so off the rails that it becomes obvious the story represents Alex’s dream. We do find a tale with a dark, awkward feel that leads us to question the reality of what we see, however.

And AmnesiA manages these elements pretty well. It can be too off-putting to really hit home – replete with the expected bleak ending - but it develops in a manner that keeps the viewer engaged.

Van Huêt does well with double duty. He makes the brothers different and distinct.

AmnesiA doesn’t succeed on a consistent basis, but it does more good than bad. It brings us a dark and unsettling but largely compelling tale.

The Disc Grades: Picture C+/ Audio C+/ Bonus B+

AmnesiA appears in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Expect a decent but inconsistent presentation.

For the most part, sharpness worked fine. While not the most distinctive image, the film offered generally positive delineation.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and I saw no edge haloes. Minor but persistent specks cropped up through the movie, though.

Colors tended toward a mix of reds, greens and golds. These could feel a little heavy but the image reproduced them with adequate quality.

Blacks felt a little too dense, while shadows were reasonably smooth. Nothing here made the transfer bad, but it never excelled.

Similar thoughts greeted the mediocre DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of AmnesiA. The soundscape remained largely restricted.

This meant a lot of the movie essentially felt monaural. Music spread to the sides in an acceptable manner, and we got some sense of atmosphere.

None of this created a particularly involving soundfield, though. Also, speech occasionally bled to the side speakers.

Audio quality seemed fine, at least. Speech appeared a bit thick at times, but the lines remained reasonably natural.

Music felt full – within its restrained constraints – and effects offered positive accuracy. This turned into an adequate but unmemorable mix.

As we move to extras, we launch with an audio commentary from writer/director Martin Koolhoven and actor Fedja van Huêt. Along with moderator Peter Verstraten, they participate in a running, screen-specific look at story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, editing, photography, and related domains.

Overall, this becomes a pretty satisfying chat. It gets into a mix of useful topics and moves at a good enough pace to maintain interest.

We can view the film with or without an introduction from Koolhoven. In this one-minute, two-second clip, he gives us basics about the movie’s production. The clip seems too brief to tell us much, but it offers a painless addition.

A Conversation with Writer/Director Martin Koolhoven and Actor Carice Van Houten runs 45 minutes, 38 seconds. They discuss story and characters, cast and performances, influences and themes, sets and locations, sound and music, cinematography, editing and related topics.

Inevitably, this program repeats some material from the commentary. However, it expands topics in a reasonable manner so it merits a look.

With The Making of AmnesiA, we find a 37-minute, 53-second program. It brings info from Koolhoven as he chats with film critic Dana Linssen.

Koolhoven offers notes about the movie’s development and production. Inevitably some of this repeats from the commentary, but we nonetheless get a good overview here.

Behind the Scenes with Carice Van Houten spans a mere one minute, 18 seconds and shows raw footage from the set and brief remarks from Van Houten. It proves mildly interesting.

In addition to the trailer for AmnesiA, Cult Epics Trailers contributes ads for Death Laid an Egg, Naked Over the Fence, Pastorale 1943, The Debut, Frank & Eva and Blue Movie.

On Disc Two, we find two TV films made by Martin Koolhoven. These include 1997’s Dark Light (54:45) and 1999’s Suzy Q (1:24:35).

In Light, a religious older woman (Viviane de Muynck) captures a criminal (Marc van Uchelen) on her farm and imprisons him. She believes he comes for divine purpose and she determines to figure out what to do with him.

Light gives off something of a Misery vibe. While not as good as that film, it becomes am intriguing journey that guides us toward some surprising places.

As for Q, it takes us to the late 1960s to meet Suzy (Van Houten), a teen girl hung up on the day’s rock stars. When Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull come to town, she connives to meet them.

While that sounds like a cute ‘n’ bouncy tale ala 1978’s comedy romp I Wanna Hold Your Hand, the final product offers something wholly different. Suzy lives with an abusive father, naïve mother and brothers who have their own issues.

This means what should turn into a fun fantasy instead offers a dark, depressing tale. The movie feels morose for no particular reason and never becomes interesting or compelling.

Though it can occasionally feel a little too convoluted for its own good, AmnesiA nonetheless presents a largely engaging thriller. It plays with reality an intriguing manner that makes it fairly involving. The Blu-ray brings adequate but erratic visuals and audio along with a good set of bonus materials. The movie deserves a look.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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