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THE SAFETY OF OBJECTS

Review by Chastity Campbell

Starring: Glenn Close, Dermot Mulroney, Jessica Campbell, Patricia Clarkson, Joshua Jackson, Moira Kelly, Robert Klein, Timothy Olyphant, Mary Kay Place
Director: Rose Troche
Audio: Dolby Digital, Surround
Video: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen  
Studio: MGM
Features: See Review
Length: 120 Minutes
Release Date: October 14, 2003

Film ***

The Safety Of Objects was a fascinating movie experience for me.  I didn’t quite understand the title right away, or the first half hour of the movie for that matter.  Soon though, I found myself wrapped up in this story unable to stop watching for fear of missing the connections between characters interwoven so skillfully throughout this whole movie. 

Based on short stories by A. M. Homes, The Safety of Objects feels completely disjointed and dysfunctional in the beginning.  I found it very hard to keep track of everyone coming and going in each scene.  Whose family does that child belong to, and what are they talking about?  Add to that flashbacks which didn’t seem to make any sense at all, and you’ll probably feel the way I did…ready to hit STOP!

I’m glad I didn’t because after about the first half hour of watching this film, things started to fall into place.  I found myself totally wrapped up in the dynamics surrounding each of the four individual families.  At the same time, I marveled at how some of the simplest things connect everyone in ways that run so deeply they may never be able to uncover and identify them all. 

I think the best way to describe this movie is to combine the flash backwards, pause, and flash forward style of the movie Memento, with the connectivity from Six Degrees of Separation.

Director Rose Troche seems to have a single style approach to each movie she focuses her attention on.  Her first film, Go Fish, was a black and white look at lesbian life in San Francisco, and the search for true honest to goodness L.O.V.E.  Some people found this movie to be a bit too artsy and bland.  I enjoyed it personally, because in essence there isn’t enough diversified cinema out there…yet. Her next turn in the hot seat was with 1998’s Bedrooms & Hallways, which was again about two gay men searching for love.

The Safety of Objects does stray from her formula in that it remains in the heterosexual realm of possibilities at least as far as I could tell.  This film takes a look at the different things we place in our lives, objects if you will, and how they serve to make us feel safe and secure when everything around us seems to be going wrong.

I believe one of the key messages of this film is understanding how the objects in each of these peoples’ lives may help or hurt them depending on how they are viewed at any given time.  The biggest thing I realized from this film is that when one object is purged from our lives, we inevitably will find a new one to help us through the next stage of life.    

This movie really is a wonderful up and down, back and forth roller coaster that is not only educational in nature, but fun to try and keep up with, too.

The acting was, in a word, terrific.  Each character had their own motivation and surroundings to cope with and flow through.  All of the actors gave tremendous amounts of energy and life to the characters they were portraying.  It gave this film the boost it needed to get over that hump in the road that screams, “B” movie! 

Out of everyone on this star laden cast ,I believe the best performances were given by  Glenn Close and Dermot Mulroney.  Close’s character Esther was heartbreaking in her honesty regarding everyone around her, only to be hampered by her own narrow sight into the realities of her own life.  Dermot Mulroney has never gotten the recognition he deserves as an actor.  He puts so much of himself into everything he does, that you have to wonder why Hollywood doesn’t give him the nod more often. 

Every actor in this movie delivered an A+ performance in my opinion, and deserves a huge pat on the back for taking four completely separate stories and making them flow so seamlessly together. 

If you get past the first half hour, I promise the movie does pick up and begin to make sense.  You never start a painting with the foreground objects first, so sit back relax, and let this story be painted right before your eyes. 

Video **

The video quality was a bit better than the audio, but not by much.

The disk was a descent transferred to the 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen format.  There was no visible haziness to the print, and the edges were solid all the way through.

The transfer was a bit dirtier than I expected from a newer release.  It could have used a bit of a run through at the DVD print wash, if you know what I mean. 

The colors were bright and vivid when necessary, and muted when not.  Overall, it was a nice transfer that simply could have benefited from a bit of an overhaul.

Audio **

I expect so much more from movies done in recent years versus those of yesteryear, but I keep being disappointed.

The audio with this one was all over the place.  The Dolby Digital Surround was a mix of just good and okay bouncing up and down like a yo-yo on a string.  While there were no complete dropouts in the audio, there was a distinct difference in levels between each spoken dialogue sequence.

The background noise/music beds were mixed okay, but again the balance just seemed off on the whole DVD. 

Features *

If this disc is depending on its extras to feel safe and secure, it’s completely out of luck!

The original theatrical movie trailer for The Safety of Objects, as well as two additional trailers for Casa de Los Babys and Dead Like Me are included for our viewing pleasure.

English and Spanish subtitles are included, and those are all the extras this disc has to offer.

Summary:

This disc may be low on features, and it might honestly confuse you for the first half hour or so, but once you figure out who’s with whom, and how each one is related, you’ll start to see the bigger picture.   Pick up this DVD and give it a chance; I think everyone can learn something from this one.