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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  Languages
  • French: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Italian: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Russian: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Commentary - English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
  Subtitles
    English, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Dutch, Portuguese, English - Hearing Impaired, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian
  Extras
  • 3 Theatrical trailer

The Pact of Silence

Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 85 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

The trailers presented alongside this movie (Borderline, Darkness Falls) suggest that this is being marketed as a thriller verging on horror-flick territory.

There are some chilling moments in The Pact of Silence, but it is mostly a fairly calm exercise in mild suspense - a mystery-drama without hysterics, which could go straight onto late-night SBS television without causing a murmur.

Capable acting jobs are performed by Gerard Depardieu as Father Joachim, a priest with an increasingly itchy clerical collar, and by Elodie Bouchez as the young Carmelite nun Sister Sarah, who makes Father Joachim think of switching vocation for vacation. Depardieu's priest is in fact a doctor, who begins treating Sarah for mysterious stomach-cramps which seem to have no physical cause. Meanwhile, in another very different part of town, another young girl is having identical pains...

The identical pains are explained when we realise that Elodie Bouchez is playing two roles in this movie - but to say more than this would be to say far far too much.

It's a pleasing suspense mystery, and it's interesting to see such actors along for the ride as Carmen Maura, a former Almodovar regular, as the Carmelite Mother-Superior with suspiciously strong affection for our Sarah.

There are a few improbabilities in the plot, and I found myself replaying some key moments just to make sure I knew who was doing what to who. The ambiguities are, however, fairly easily resolved; while this gives a pleasing evening's viewing, this flick won't provide the same dinner-party debates as Mulholland Drive or The Swimming Pool.

  Video
Contract

The anamorphic transfer is excellent; the Brazilian scenes (actually filmed in Portugal) glow with sun-drenched colour, and interior scenes are presented with good contrast and strong tones.

By contrast, the French scenes are relatively muted, with a much more pastel-oriented colour palette; the difference is strong and well thought out.

There are no visible artefacts; this release presents the movie as well as you could expect to see it. While this is not a dual-layer movie, the lack of worthwhile special features makes a single-layer presentation quite adequate.

  Audio
Contract

There are good Dolby Digital 5.1 surround tracks in French, Italian or Spanish. The sound is clear, but doesn't give surround systems a workout as there's no call in this movie for special effects of any startling kind.

A fourth track presents a real oddity - we can hear as an under-score the original French 5.1 soundtrack, while Russian actors dub over the original, hoping that the aurally adroit will be able to unscramble the resulting linguistic mess.

  Extras
Contract

There's an optional audio commentary track with running commentary from director Graham Guit and actress Elodie Bouchez - but this is of use only to French speakers. There's no English equivalent.

The disc has the original American theatrical trailer, with a voiceover spoken in irritatingly breathless, confidential tones. Two other previews for Borderline and Darkness Falls are presented in the same semi-hysterical way.

  Overall  
Contract

Most people would be content to rent this; it's a worthwhile excursion into French cinema, though not as strong in memory or as rich a feast of speculation as last year's big French mystery/thriller, The Swimming Pool.


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      And I quote...
    "Sister Sarah has unexplained stomach-pains and Father Joachim, who seeks to treat her, is strangely attracted to this mysterious young Carmelite nun. He's getting hot under the collar... where will it all end?"
    - Anthony Clarke
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Panasonic A330
    • TV:
          Loewe Profil Plus 3272 68cm
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