Separate Lies

Separate Lies (2005)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Emily Watson, Tom Wilkinson, Rupert Everett, Hermione Norris, John Warnaby
Extras: Audio Commentary, Theatrical Trailer

The disintegration of what appears on the surface to be a near perfect marriage is the focus for "Gosford Park" writer/director Julian Fellowes in his latest film "Separate Lies."

Life for James (Tom Wilkinson) and Anne Manning (Emily Watson) seems to be all that it can be, at least through the eyes of James, who soon learns of his wife's infidelity with family friend William Bule (Rupert Everett). Adding complexity to "Separate Lies" is the stories exploration into the idea of why people choose to make the fatal errors they do, when we witness a neighboring villager who unfortunately succumbs to his injuries after a hit and run accident that pits his bicycle against a speeding SUV. The death of the villager, who happens to also be the husband of the Manning's housekeeper, brings more intricacy to the lives of those involved. Leading to shocking revelations between James, Anne and William as the trio become implicated in a cover-up and a web of lies that could wind up costing them everything.

You can't help but admire the ever impressive Tom Wilkinson, easily one of the more talented actors of our time, who provides a fantastic portrayal of the credulous and sometimes cunning James Manning. With equally entertaining performances turned in from Emily Watson as the promiscuous Anne and Rupert Everett playing an egotistical playboy that makes you wish you could just reach into the screen and slap him at times.

I also enjoyed the somewhat peaceful setting of this wealthy village that is nestled within the English countryside, which is admirably captured by the cinematography of Tony Pierce-Roberts (The Remains of the Day).

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment delivers a delightful presentation of "Separate Lies" on DVD. Color saturation is spot on capturing all the wealth and complexity that makes up the beauty of the English countryside, while keeping flesh tones true and natural throughout. A rich black level attributes to the fantastic detail present in the film's exhibition. There is virtually nothing in the form of dust particles or noticeable compression issues. I did find the vivid white balance to add the slightest bit of harshness to some of the outdoor scenes, but overall "Separate Lies" is preserved in a great looking transfer on DVD.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack provided more than enough channel options for the film's presentation, which generally occupies the front soundstage with minimal use of surround and lower frequency channels. Quite commonplace for a film of this dramatic nature, the soundtrack still pairs nicely overall with the visual presentation. "Separate Lies" is simply a dialogue driven film, so thankfully the vocal tracks are reproduced to appear natural throughout with no existing audible distortion.

Special features are rather minimal, containing a full-length audio commentary from writer / director Julian Fellowes and a theatrical trailer for the film.

Not hearing much about "Separate Lies" during its theatrical run, I was not too sure what awaited me prior to screening the DVD. Thankfully the great performances, solid script and terrific presentation made "Separate Lies" a true delight to witness and I can easily recommend this film to anyone in search of a satisfying storytelling experience.