Olivia

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Mike (Robert Walker, Jr.) is an American working in London, as the famed London Bridge is being dismantled. The bridge is to be taken apart and then moved to Arizona, as per the wishes of the structure’s new owner. As the project continues, he meets a woman named Olivia (Suzanna Love) and the two strike up a friendship. Olivia is a beautiful woman, but she is haunted by her past and cannot seem to escape from its clutches. Her mother was murdered in horrific fashion, which has left her traumatized. At night, she finds herself overwhelmed by nightmares, violent and disturbing ones that linger even after she wakes. But she finds little solace in her husband, the one place she is supposed to be able to turn. She feels trapped in that bond, even though love and passion have long since abandon the union. In Mike, she sees a chance at a new life or if nothing else, a chance to escape, even if only for a while. But time passes and the two go their separate ways, as Mike returns to America and Olivia returns to her own life. After three years however, Mike visits the site where the bridge was moved to and while there, he sees Olivia, but things don’t go as he had expected. She has lost her English accent and claims to have never met him, but is it all a plot of some kind, or is Mike the confused one?

I found this movie to be much more refined than expected, with an emphasis on psychological content, as opposed to cheap scares. As director Ulli Lommel (The Boogeyman, The Tenderness of the Wolves) had worked in both thrillers and horror movies before this picture, he knew the ins & outs of terror. And with Olivia, he chose to refrain from the cheap moments and instead, cause chills by focusing on the inner workings of the mind, which can be quite horrific. As noble as such as effort is, Lommel is unable to make it work as well as it should, since the writing, especially in the second half, begins to run out of gas. This leads to some drawn moments, which should have been handled with more precision. In the thriller genre, we need the pace to be brisk toward the close and here it grinds in many instances, which is bad news. But Olivia still stands as a logical, believable thriller and that’s enough to make it a solid production. The movie starts off on a high note, which has to be seen, but is unable to maintain that level. This leads to the slow, drawn out collapse, as the movie pushes ahead, but loses steam in the process. I do like Lommel’s use of motivation, as it sets a proper stage for the violence that follows. A lot of thrillers gloss over such background information, but Lommel weaves it into his storyline. Even as a flawed thriller, Olivia is a fun watch and as such, I am able to give it a solid recommendation.

In the lead here is Suzanna Love, who is a fairly famous person, but not because of her work as a movie star. No, Love is an heiress to the Dupont fortune and as such, has immense amounts of cash at her disposal. And that cash was often used to finance motion pictures, with rumors of checks being written right on the set to ensure the continuation of the productions. So which movies did she finance? Well, she was married to Ulli Lommel, so do a little math and it should all become quite obvious. Love made sure her spouse’s films were paid for and at the same time, she took on roles within those pictures. In some instances, she even nabbed the lead role and that was the case with Olivia. But was she deserving of the lead roles she was given, or was she just given them based on her cash and connection to the director? I know some will disagree, but I think Love is a solid worker and in Olivia, she is quite good indeed. A more seasoned actress might have done better, but all things considered, I think her performance is good. Other films with Love include The Devonsville Terror, Blank Generation, Cocaine Cowboys, The Boogeyman, Brain Waves, and A Smile in the Dark. The cast also includes Michael Evans (Time After Time, The Sword and the Sorcerer), Nicholas Love (The Dead Pool, Jennifer Eight), and Robert Walker, Jr. (Beware! The Blob, The Long Good Friday).

Video: How does it look?

Olivia is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The image is a little rough in places, but all things considered, this is a solid presentation. The print is cleaner than expected, but still has some grain and debris evident. There is more grain than debris however, which causes some softness in some scenes. I was never too put off by the softness, since a lot of early 1980s movies look this way and this was a rather low budget project. The colors are solid, but never all that bright and contrast is even, but a little soft at times. So in the end, we have a solid visual effort and in this case, that’s acceptable.

Audio: How does it sound?

I wasn’t all that impressed with the included mono mix, but it wasn’t that bad either. This track does miss a few chances, but overall this film just doesn’t need the dynamic sound that some do. A little creepiness could have been added via some creative surround use, but track still offers a decent experience. The music sounds good enough, but lacks the immersive punch a full surround sound track could produce. The sounds effects come through well, but again lack the full punch I would have liked. No dialogue problems emerge though, as the vocals seem clear and well place. Not a great soundtrack, but not a bad one either.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes a fifteen minute interview with Lommel, in which he discusses how the project originated and shares some production stories. This is a solid piece, but it has too many movie clips for my taste. All in all, I think Lommel should have recorded a commentary track instead, but for some reason, that didn’t happen.

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