Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Christopher Reeve
Extras: Commentary Track, Documentary, Featurette, Filmographies
Repression does have a name, and its Stevens the butler, played masterfully by Sir Anthony Hopkins.
Hopkins helms the title role with uncanny subtlety and subdued passion, as his character simply honors duty before self – and to a fault. Strong evidence lies in a powerful scene where he is too busy serving his master, Lord Darlington and his guests to attend to his own father’s sudden death. Emma Thompson plays a housekeeper also in the service of Lord Darlington who becomes both intrigued and attracted to Hopkins as the movie progresses. Her love for him and the house wane as neither appreciation for her work or her love for Stevens are ever truly reciprocated. Add an interesting political backdrop as well as notable cameos from Christopher Reeve and Hugh Grant and you have a truly special motion picture. The story is beautifully written, the performances multi-layered, the direction skillful, and the music haunting and memorable. A great movie that could have easily taken its share of Oscars. Highly Recommended.
The DVD contains a nice-looking anamorphic print in the movie’s original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, albeit with an occasional artifact or slight spot on the film showing from time to time. The movie reproduces darks well, and the detail is also above average. The colors are a little on the drab side, but that owes more to the film itself than the print.
The audio on the disc consists mostly of dialogue, which stands out well. Not too much subwoofer activity on a study of English housekeeping here. Rears also get little workout, but sound effects are reproduced crisply. Audio track particularly shines during the wonderful score.
From the moment you pop it in the DVD, the menus and options are first-class and elegant, suiting the movie like a nice cup of tea. Three excellent documentaries and featurettes focusing on production, casting, and even the political state of the movie also give added layers and explanation to an already cohesive production. Three deleted scenes also serve as nice additions with an argument between the two main characters of interest. The commentary track is first-rate, and surprisingly humorous, with Emma Thompson and company lending numerous insights and funny moments of the production. Costume information, locations, filmographies, and production notes round out what could only be called a very comprehensive special edition. I’d be surprised to see a new ’Ultimate Edition’ any time soon.
A ’Disc done right the first time’, and timeless to boot. If you love top-notch drama, you’re in good hands for the remainder of the day…