The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Cinema Libre - 2009
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 88 minutes
Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby Digital Stereo
Subtitles: English, French
Starring: Brenda Blethyn, Sotigui Kouyate
Written & Directed by: Rachid Bouchareb
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: April 3, 2012
"A story of strangers."
Set against the backdrop of the July 7th terrorist attacks in 2005, London River follows Elizabeth (BAFTA winner, Academy Award nominee Brenda Blethyn) from a small farming community in Guernsey as she travels to London in the immediate aftermath of the bombings after failing to hear from her daughter. Elizabeth is disturbed by the confusion of the metropolis and above all, by the predominantly Muslim neighborhood where her daughter lived. Her fear and prejudice escalate when she discovers her daughter was converting to Islam as she keeps crossing paths with Ousmane (Berlin's Silver Bear winner, Sotigui Kouyat), a West African who has come from France to find his missing son. Although they come from very different backgrounds, Elizabeth and Ousmane share the same hope of finding their children alive. Putting aside their cultural differences, they give each other the strength to continue the search and maintain their faith in humanity.
London River was inspired by the aftermath of the 7/7/05 bombings in London when a series of coordinated suicide attacks, targeting civilians using the public transportation system during the morning rush- hour, disabled the city. Three bombs planted aboard the London Underground and a fourth on a double-decker bus exploded during rush- hour traffic, killing fifty- two people, as well as the four bombers, and wounding over 700 more. The film's fictional characters are drawn from the stories that resulted from the attacks and focuses on two people from very different backgrounds/cultures who share a common bond in that their son/daughter are missing. Initially Elizabeth and Ousmane arrive in London separately, he being estranged from his son, and she not having seen her daughter in two years (but staying in contact via phone). With no word from her daughter Elizabeth travels to her apartment, which she is surprised to find is located in a largely Muslim neighborhood. As she begins scouring the neighborhood, hospitals and shelters she continually runs across Ousmane, a West African man, who is searching for his missing son.
The storyline plays out as a character study, with elements of mystery that focuses not so much on the bombings but more on the evolving relationship between Elizabeth and Ousmane. London River eschews strong secondary character development and a complex plot in favor of a poignant story that speaks to the human condition and conveys hope in people amidst conflict and preconceived notions. Both Brenda Blethyn and Sotigui Kouyate give nuanced performances that embolden the humanity associated with their respective characters as well as the narrative. The film's thematic tone is a solemn one that is carefully drawn over its 88 minute runtime. The outcome may or may not be what you expect but there is no denying the truth found at its core. London River is a simple yet evocatively genuine drama that is well worth seeing.
The film contains thematic elements that would garner a PG-13 rating.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
London River comes to Blu-ray Disc from Cinema Libre Studio featuring 1080i AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 28 Mbps and lossy Dolby Digital Stereo that has a constant bitrate of 192 kbps.
This video presentation offers little in the way of highly polished, vividly colorful images but it seems to represent the film's elements well. Primary colors are held in check and the use of cooler secondary hues coincides with the film's somber tone. Complexions are texturally revealing with natural coloring that varies among the cast. Resolution is good but softer elements leaves the long range and panning vista views of the various locations appearing less definitively resolvable. Close ups and mid level shots are more revealing of subtle delineation and texture. Contrast is stable and blacks are above average in depth but not especially gradational in nature. This presentation appears faithful and makes for a fair high definition viewing experience.
- (HD) Interview with director Rachid Bouchareb - 8 minutes
Inspired by the aftermath of the 7/7/05 bombings in London London River is a simple yet evocatively genuine drama with a poignant story that speaks to the human condition and conveys hope in people amidst conflict and preconceived notions. It comes to Blu-ray from Cinema Libre Studios featuring unremarkable but faithful high definition video quality, lossy stereo sound and a single bonus supplement that offers insights from writer/director Rachid Bouchareb. If you're a genre fan that appreciates character driven stories this one is well worth seeing.
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