Plot: What’s it about?
This film centers on Philip and Storey Emmenthal (John Standing & Matthew Delamere), a father and son who begin a new kind of relationship after the death of the mother, some deep thought, and a copy of Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2. The husband wonders if he was wise to go without sexual experimentation and satisfaction all those years, but once he has seen that movie then he knows the answer. He and his son quickly turn their lush mansion into a haven for sexual pleasures of all types, and I mean all types. Here they can bask in feminine beauty of all manner and enjoy all varieties of women. Dominant ones, passive ones, ethnic ones, domestic ones, chatty ones, it seems as though each genre of female is represented here. The two live out all their fantasies and love every second of it, until they realize how much this whole affair has shifted the lines within their lives.
An interesting and original storyline to be sure, but how is the flick, right? Well, I don’t regret the time I spent with this movie by any means, but then again I don’t think I will revisit it any time soon either. The writing seems to be rather bland, taking some real good ideas and running them into a brick wall a few times. When it works, it works pretty well, but when it fails, this film seems like a student film gone down the toilet. The characters end up being interesting in the end, but the stereotypes used take forever to explain and define, which slows down the movie a little too much. The main complaint I have with this film is that most audiences simply won’t relate to the literary based “in jokes,” which appear often here. This might turn some people off who might otherwise like this movie, which is not a good thing in the least. If you’re a fan of the director though, this is a disc you should check out.
Writer/director Peter Greenaway tries to conjure up a complex, mysterious world with this film, but most of his work ends up being for nothing. A few pieces work very well and if the film were all like that, this would have been a terrific film. But those parts are few and far between, which leaves the movie as average most of the time, even then lacking in scope and appeal. The directing effort goes much better than the writing though, which seems shuffled and misplaced. Too much time is spent on pointless issues, which means the film lacks the punch it needs when it need to have it. But this isn’t that bad if you like Greenaway’s previous work, though he should have done much better. Other Greenaway films include The Pillow Book, Drowning By Numbers, The Cook The Thief His Wife & Her Lover, and Making A Splash. The main stars (John Standing & Matthew Delamere) do their best, but still falter in the end.
Video: How does it look?
8 1/2 Women is presented in a 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Aside from some grain, this is a nice overall transfer. The colors look bold and sharp, with stark darker shades and bright and well defined lighter tones. I found no evidence of smears or bleeds and flesh tones (and this movie has a lot of them) look warm and natural at all times. The contrast is solid also, no detail loss is seen and black levels are accurate & well balanced.
Audio: How does it sound?
This disc uses a 2.0 surround track, which is more than enough for this type of film. There isn’t much action with this one, but the dialogue sounds clean and very crisp at all times. Some minor background effects emerge, but nothing that will make you realize you own a surround sound system. This is about as I expected this track to be, with little problems though little to make me raise the overall score. This disc also has English captions.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer.