Pola X

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Pierre (Guillaume Depardieu) is a young man with a privileged lifestyle, but he harbors some internal conflicts as well. He has been called a genius and an inspiration thanks to a successful novel, but since he wrote it under another name, he is not known as the real author. His status as genius in terms of writing clashes with his personal life, where he is often confused and makes all sorts of mistakes. He likes to ponder the darker side of life, but doesn’t get to see much of that, aside from looking within his own darker desires. He will soon wed his beautiful cousin, Lucie (Delphine Chuillot) and begin a new chapter in his life, which his ever present mother, Marie (Catherine Deneuve) has helped to plan for him. But all of these plans soon change, when he meets a vagrant in the streets, Isabelle (Yekaterina Golubyova). This is the woman he has had dark, visionary dreams about and as such, he is determined to do whatever it takes to attain her. but how far will Pierre venture into his own dark side to live out his dream and also, what will his actions do his soon to be wife and doting mother?

Although I liked Pola X to an extent, I feel as though it fell short of the true potential, thanks to too much pretension. I can deal with movies that are reliant on dark, impressive visuals, but Pola X has so much more, it just never comes together as it should. The visuals are excellent and the cast is also good, but the writing never explores the interesting topics much and in addition, throws too much unbelievable stuff at us. I can suspend disbelief with no problems, but in a realistic film like Pola X, which is supposed to be based in reality, some of these twists were a little tough to swallow. I was able to accept them however, but I simply couldn’t overlook the lack of a well penned screenplay here, the cast is fine form and has nowhere to take themselves. Guillaume Depardieu, Catherine Deneuve, and Yekaterina Golubyova all turn in solid efforts, but are never given the chance to really shine in their roles. I do want to mention that Pola X has some nudity and one pretty graphic sex scene, which involves total nudity and almost hardcore antics. I wasn’t shocked and I doubt many others would be, but I wanted to mention it, to warn potential easily offended viewers. I recommend Pola X for the visuals and performances, but there’s little else here to like.

Although her role in Pola X is a smaller one, I still find her work to be the most memorable from the picture. Her scenes seem so powerful, even though minimal dialogue is passed and I think that speaks volume for her talent. Of course, I knew she would be in fine form as always, since she has yet to hand in a performance that has disappointed me. I am pleased to see that even as she gets a little older, she is still willing to take chances and her nude sequence more than proves that. Her beauty is still impressive and her body still packs a visual punch, so I am sure she had little reservations about revealing herself here. All too often, performers revert to safer ground as they grow older, but Deneuve doesn’t shy away from offbeat material, which is cool indeed. Other films with Deneuve include Mississippi Mermaid, Dancer in the Dark, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Repulsion, Indochine, and The Last Metro. The cast here also includes Guillaume Depardieu (The Sandmen, White Lies), Laurent Lucas (I Hate Love, Battle Cries), Delphine Chuillot, and Yekaterina Golubyova (A Fool’s Revenge, The Corridor).

Video: How does it look?

Pola X is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This presentation is decent enough, but has some problems which force me to lower the score. The film’s visuals are dark and as such, this image needed excellent contrast levels, which is not the case. The black levels are good, but lack the sharpness and refinement this kind of dark flick needs. As a result, some detail is buried in the darkness, but not too much, you can still see what’s going on. The colors look as good as you can expect from this type of film, as it uses more dull hues than vivid streaks of colors. I am pleased to see this film given an anamorphic transfer, but the inconsistent contrast levels and frequent compression issues cause me to give this one an average score, which is a little on the generous side.

Audio: How does it sound?

The audio track here is listed as a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, although this kind of material doesn’t lend itself often to immersive surround presence. An audiophile I am not, but I do know this track is very good, but not as expansive as we’re used to. But the material is covered well and that is what counts, more than massive surround use or overpowering bass. This mix is driven by dialogue, but shows a lot of life as well, both from the musical score and from a handful of more audio powered sequences. I wouldn’t use this as a demo disc for my system, but it sounds very good and handles the material, so I am pleased in the end. The original French language is used here of course, with optional English subtitles tacked on, in case you’ll need them.

Supplements: What are the extras?

An audio commentary track with star Guillaume Depardieu is included, which is a welcome notion, as few Winstar discs feature commentary options. Although his comments sometimes revert to talking about on screen action, Depardieu also discusses the experience of making Pola X, as well as some insight into a few mysterious scenes. I am very pleased this was included on this release and if you’re listening Winstar, we want more commentary tracks! This disc also includes some filmographies, a selection of unused and alternative takes, and the film’s theatrical trailer.

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