Trimark // 1997 // 104 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Rogers (Retired) // February 15th, 2000
"Every pleasure has its price"
From director Philip Haas (Angels and Insects) comes this simple tale of two couples in an unnamed tropical country exploring their sexuality and themselves.
The movie has all the hallmarks of being an independent film release. Further, it gives every indication of being a foreign film. The director uses a very ponderous pacing style that lends itself to long stretches of sweeping vistas and silent portraits of characters. There is very little dialogue in the film, furthering the, at times, oppressive silence weighing upon the viewer. The entire film spins out like a theatrical production, like an off-Broadway play with better locations than painted cardboard backgrounds.
Blood Oranges' story is extremely straightforward and uncomplicated. A couple (Charles Dance (Last Action Hero, Space Truckers, Hilary and Jackie), Sheryl Lee (Vampires, Twin Peaks, Wild at Heart)) is lolling about in a South American-esque setting with nary a care in the world. They are soon joined by another couple, and a the rest of the film follows the two couples feeling each other out amid sexual and relationship tension.
The video transfer is uninspired. While it is widescreen (but not anamorphic), no aspect ratio listed. There aren't any specific instances of video errors (artifacting, color bleeding, et cetera...), the transfer does not have a very crisp or vibrant feel to it. Likewise, the soundtrack is presented in Dolby 2.0 (stereo) only, and is of merely average quality. At times it grows so quiet the sparse dialogue is difficult to discern.
Aside from the film itself, the only feature on the disc is a full frame trailer. The trailer must have been for international release, because it has several instances of nudity, which is rarely seen in American film trailers.
This film strikes me as the type college Foreign Language students are assigned to watch as homework, except it's in English. It's very slow, very quiet, and very incoherent. While there aren't any glaring problems, as one would typically find with a B grade film,
Blood Oranges never manages to hook the viewer into the story being told. The disc itself offers no added value features which might enable the viewer to better understand the intentions of the director and/or writers.
Recommended for niche fans only. Trimark is further reminded that, while a film might be poorly received, a stronger disc can help bolster its acceptance. Blood Oranges could have been better served by that same missing stronger disc.
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Scales of Justice
* Unknown:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 104 Minutes
Release Year: 1997
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Full Frame Theatrical Trailer