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Jamie Thraves
Julia Stiles, Paddy Considine, Karl Pruner, Phillip MacKenzie, Gord Rand, James Gilbert, R.D. Reid
Writing Credits:
Patricia Highsmith (novel), Jamie Thraves

Based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr. Ripley), a young woman becomes inexplicably attracted to a man who is stalking her. When her boyfriend goes missing, the stalker is the immediate suspect, until a game of jealousy and betrayal turns deadly.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 99 min.
Price: $22.99
Release Date: 6/8/2010

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Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Cry Of The Owl (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 31, 2010)

Based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith, 2009’s The Cry of the Owl introduces us to Robert Forrester (Paddy Considine). A socially awkward office drone stuck in the middle of a divorce to a woman who toys with him (Caroline Dhavernas), he satisfies his emotional longings as a Peeping Tom: he hangs outside of Jenny Thierolf’s (Julia Stiles) house and stares at her through the window.

Eventually she catches him, but rather than call the cops, she invites Robert in for a chat. This starts a relationship that intensifies after she dumps her pushy boyfriend Greg (James Gilbert), though Robert resists Jenny’s advances. He may have been the one to long for her at first, but once he gets a shot – and she actually falls for him – Robert ends the relationship.

But that doesn’t solve Robert’s problems. Greg harasses them, as he won’t accept the breakup. Greg then attacks Robert, an assault that leaves the angry ex injured – and soon dead. Robert turns into the prime suspect, and we follow events that eventually lead toward the truth.

While not an insurmountable problem, Owl suffers from an inherently flawed premise. It hinges on an awful lot of coincidence and requires us to accept a relationship in which a woman embraces her stalker. Does this happen in real life? Sure, but the movie handles it in a decidedly improbable manner.

A lot of that stems from Considine’s performance. Perhaps if he played Robert as a more likable, engaging premise, we could understand why Jenny falls for him. However, Considine turns Robert into a consistently weird dude. The guy always seems like a freak; not once in the film does he come across as anything other than mentally disturbed and unstable. (The British Considine also boasts one of the worst American accents on record.)

Yet we’re supposed to believe that babes fall for him left and right! His ex-wife I a certified hottie, and Stiles is certainly cute. We also see a beautiful doctor throw herself at Robert at a party.

Seriously? Considine is pretty average looking, and he makes Robert such a creep that it’s impossible to believe that all these babes would dig him. The role needs a much more magnetic actor. I think Robert should throw out a vibe of psychological uncertainty, but he shouldn’t be such an apparent ticking time bomb.

Perhaps a movie with a stronger narrative could get past a bad lead performance, but Owl isn’t that movie. It starts out boring and then gets a little more interesting, though mainly in an exasperating manner. It throws out some many absurd twists that we lose interest as it goes. The curveballs feel like they exist solely to put the audience off-guard. None of them feel particularly natural, and they lead us down an empty road.

Along the way, Jenny muses about how someday everything will end, and how someday she’ll eat her last meal, read her last book and hear her last song. If Owl ends up as the last movie I ever see, I’ll go to the next plane on a sour note.

The DVD Grades: Picture C/ Audio B-/ Bonus D-

The Cry of the Owl appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though not an awful transfer, the presentation never looked terribly good.

Sharpness was adequate. The movie offered decent delineation but lacked much real detail. While it didn’t seem truly soft, it also failed to deliver strong definition. Jagged edges and moiré effects created mild distractions, and some edge haloes also appeared. I didn’t see any print flaws, but digital artifacts gave the flick a messy, grainy look.

Psychological thrillers don’t usually go for dynamic palettes, and the colors of Owl looked suitably restrained. The hues were consistently low-key; earth tones dominated. These were decent given the visual design. Blacks appeared acceptably deep, while shadows seemed okay; some low-light shots were too dark, but most offered fair clarity. No huge problems occurred, but the overall package seemed lackluster.

As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Owl, it worked better. The movie didn’t boast a ton of information, but it gave us a good sense of atmosphere. General environmental material ruled the day, though a few scenes boasted more dynamic use of the speakers. I’d be hard-pressed to point out any memorable sequences, but I thought the soundfield created a nice feeling for the setting.

Audio quality was fine. Speech remained natural and crisp, without edginess or other issues. Music appeared reasonably rich and full, while effects followed suit. Those elements came across as accurate, and they lacked distortion. At no point did this become a memorable soundtrack, but it seemed effective for the movie.

A few ads open the DVD. We get promos for Carriers and Paranormal Activity. These also appear under Previews along with clips for Wrong Turn at Tahoe and Echelon Conspiracy. No trailer for Owl - or any other extras – show up here.

If you want to see a good adaptation of a Patricia Highsmith novel, go rent The Talented Mr. Ripley. Hampered by a poor lead performance and an unconvincing narrative, The Cry of the Owl doesn’t work. The DVD provides good audio, but picture quality seems ordinary at best and no supplements appear. Owl had some potential, but it didn’t come together to create an enjoyable film.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 5
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