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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > British > Asylum (2005/Paramount DVD)

Asylum (2005)


Picture: B-     Sound: C+     Extras: C-     Film: C+



Director David Mackenzie’s British drama Asylum (2005) is a mixed bag of great cast members, locations, sets and acting with too much of what we have seen before.  For some reason, British feature productions want to go to mental hospitals and produce films with this title.  Roy Ward Baker’s anthology Horror film Asylum from 1972 is the best known, though the independent 2000 production we reviewed elsewhere on this site is went by barely noticed for good reason.


This 2005 film has Natasha Richardson, Ian McKellen, Joss Ackland and Judy Parfitt are among the cast as a wife (Richardson) bored with her husband doctor (Hugh Bonneville) takes over a mental institute.  She falls for one of the patients (Marton Csokas) and the relationship heats up quickly.  Unfortunately, things just happen flatly throughout without anything new to offer, any ironic distance or the extra energy to overcome much of the predictable.  See this one for the production, locations and acting, but it is not as great as was hoped for.  The ending is almost silly, the more you think about it.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image was shot by cinematographer Giles Nuttgens and makes the title location out be very lush and roomy, even sometimes in enclosed spaces that still feel enclosed.  Video Black is questionable, but this looks good otherwise.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 mixes have little in the way of surrounds and are surprisingly weak.  The combination is too laid back for its own good, much like the film itself, though the music score by Mark Mancina (Speed, Training Day) is noteworthy and even saves the film at times.  The only extra is previews for other Paramount DVD releases that also have to be bypassed in most cases before you get to the film.  Mackenzie will next direct a film on the singer Nico, which everyone will be waiting for.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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