Human Nature

Human Nature (2002)
New Line Home Entertainment
Cast: Tim Robbins, Patricia Arquette, Miranda Otto, Rhys Ifans
Extras: Trailers, DVD-ROM Content

With the recent critical buzz surrounding screenwriter Charlie Kaufman’s latest two efforts, ’Adaptation’ and ’Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, ’ it’s only fitting that New Line would release on DVD one of his lesser known works, 2002’s ’Human Nature.’

Directed by Michel Gondry, ’Human Nature’ is a typically bizarre Kafkaesque character study by Charlie Kaufman that revolves around a love quadrangle consisting of bestselling nature writer, Lila (Patricia Arquette), who only recently could afford the full-body electrolysis needed to shed her head to toes pelt; behavioral researcher Nathan Bronfman (Tim Robbins), a middle-aged virgin with an obsessive-compulsive streak; Nathan’s lovely assistant Gabrielle (Miranda Otto); and Puff (Rhys Ifans), a feral human raised since childhood believing he’s an ape.

Fans of Kaufman’s ’Being John Malkovich’ will feel right at home here as the story is similar both in tone and content. Those adverse to more adventurous cinematic offerings will likely be confused to no end by the inherent oddness in this tale of lust, love, and, well, lust.

Presented in both full frame and 1.85 anamorphic widescreen versions, ’Human Nature’ arrives on DVD with one of New Line’s typically excellent video transfers. There is a bit of edge enhancement but this is otherwise an almost perfect video presentation with solid and stable colors and black levels and no physical imperfections whatsoever.

Audio comes in English Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Surround modes as well a dubbed French DD 2.0 track. The 5.1 track is surprisingly lively with active surrounds and a very pleasant spatial sound. There isn’t much call here for deep bass but everything is well-balanced and only serves to enhance the oddball on-screen antics.

The disc contains trailers for this film as well as New Line’s ’Cherish,’ ’The Invisible Circus,’ and ’Storytelling.’ DVD-ROM content consists of a complete archive of the theatrical website that is packed with the production notes, cast and crew bios, and other goodies that one would typically find on a DVD of this sort without having to resort to finding a DVD-ROM equipped computer.

’Human Nature’ is an amusing tale that moves at right angles to how one would expect a typical Hollywood romantic comedy to unravel. The key players are all on-key with their very odd character portrayals and fans of Rhys Ifans star-stealing turn in ’Notting Hill’ will be happy to hear that he’s just as endearingly bizarre in this picture.

Arriving on DVD with excellent audio-visual quality and decent enough extras for those with DVD-ROM access, ’Human Nature’ is entertaining, odd, confusing, pandering, and wholly enjoyable for those with a somewhat bent world view. Try it if you dare but don’t come complaining if it doesn’t prove to be your cup of tea.