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AmnesiA (Cult Epics) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • AmnesiA (Cult Epics) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Cult Epics
    Released on: April 11th, 2023.
    Director: Martin Koolhoven
    Cast: Carice van Houten, Fedja van Huet, Theo Maassen
    Year: 2001
    Purchase From Amazon

    AmnesiA – Movie Review:

    Directed by Martin Koolhoven, 2001’s AmnesiA opens with a man named Alex (Fedja van Huet) working in his dark room and then taking some photographs of a beautiful woman sleeping in her bed. A short time later, he gets a call from Aram (also van Huet), the twin brother that he hasn’t heard from in years. Aram tells Alex that their mother (Sacha Bulthuis) isn’t doing well and that if he wants to say his goodbyes to her, he should come home as soon as he possibly can.

    Alex decides it’d be best to make the trip and soon enough he and a pretty young woman named Sandra (Carice van Houten), with a penchant for lighting things on fire, are in his car and on their way. It isn’t long after their arrival that Alex and Arma get into it when Arma’s criminal dealings have a negative effect on… pretty much everything. The fact that he’s hiding away a co-conspirator (Theo Maassen) who is recovering from gunshot wounds in the house isn’t making things easier to deal with for Alex.

    As would seem inevitable, it doesn’t take long for Alex and Arma’s shared past to come back and haunt them as family tensions soon rise to a boil.

    AmnesiA is a really well-made movie, part thriller and part black comedy, that features some fantastic cinematography and really strong production values. The film’s use of color is frequently very nice, impressive even, and it is paced very effectively as well. The score is pretty solid and, far more often than not, Martin Koolhoven and company pretty much gets everything right. The story unfolds in ways that are simultaneously unexpected but that also make perfect sense, and it winds up working really well. The film is, ultimately, quite suspenseful and at times, darkly humorous.

    The acting is excellent across the board. Fedja van Huet is fantastic in his dual role and he does a great job of giving both twin brothers their own distinct personalities and character traits. He has an interesting chemistry with Carice van Houten, who is just as good in the movie as van Huet is. She has a unique and intriguing screen presence that winds up bringing a lot to the movie and she proves to be a great casting choice for the part. Sacha Bulthuis is also very solid in her smaller supporting role. As good as the writing and direction is in the movie, the cast do a lot of the heavy lifting and go a long way towards making AmnesiA as interesting as it is.

    AmnesiA – Blu-ray Review:

    Taken from a brand new 4k scan of the original 35mm negative and presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition on a 50GB disc framed at 1.66.1 widescreen, AmnesiA looks really nice on region free Blu-ray from Cult Epics. Colors are reproduced nicely and black levels are solid. Detail is strong throughout and the picture always looks nice and filmic. There are no issues with any obvious noise reduction, edge enhancement or noise reduction and overall Cult Epics has done a really nice job here.

    Audio options are offered in 24-bit LPCM 2.0 Stereo, 24-bit DTS-HD 5.1 and in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound in Dutch. Optional subtitles are included in English only Both of the lossless Dutch options sound quite nice, giving the score some appreciable depth with the 5.1 track filling in the back of the soundscape quite nicely during a few key moments. Levels are balanced and the tracks are clean.

    Extras on the first disc start off with a quick introduction by Martin Koolhoven, who also provides an audio commentary by Martin Koolhoven, Fedja van Huet, moderated by Peter Verstraten. It’s an interesting talk that offers up a lot of information about what went into making the movie. It covers working with the different cast and crew members, some of the locations, some of what went into the post production process, learning a lot while making the movie, getting the film out there and scene and what it’s like trying to make feature films in the relatively small Dutch film industry.

    The disc also includes a brand new 2022 Conversation With Martin Koolhoven And Carice van Houten running forty-four minutes that covers some of the same ground as the commentary but which also goes over van Houten’s work in the movie in a lot of detail, shooting in Belgium versus their native Holland, what they tried to bring to the project and their collective working methods.

    The thirty-eight minute The Making of AmnesiA is an interview with Koolhoven who speaks about his creative process and experiences on set on camera in between selections of footage shot on the set that give us a bird’s eye view of what it was like during the production. Behind-the-Scenes with Carice van Houten is a quick eighty-second snippet of behind the scenes footage that shows the actress and some other cast and crew members prepping for their scenes.

    Finishing up the extras on disc one is a theatrical trailer, trailers for a few other Cult Epics properties (Death Laid An Egg, Naked Over The Fence, Pastorale 1943, The Debut, Frank & Eva and Blue Movie), menus and chapter selection options.

    The second disc features two bonus movies from Koolhoven, the first of which is 1999’s Suzy Q. This one is based on the exploits of screenwriter Frouke Fokkema and it is set in the sixties and follows a young woman named Suzy (played by van Houten in her first collaboration with the director) who is obsessed with The Rolling Stones. She uses their music as a way to get away from what is, for all intents and purposes, a very dull existence and a family life that leaves more than a little to be desired. Her parents (Jack Wouterse and Linda van Dyck) don’t seem to have much interest in her and her two brothers (Michiel Huisman and Roeland Fernhout) don’t quite connect with her on a level she’d want them to. Her life gets more interesting when she learns that The Rolling Stones’ current tour is making a stop in Amsterdam and she decides to do anything and everything in her power to make sure she’s there for it.

    A very well-made movie with a pretty killer soundtrack, Suzy Q is just as well-acted as Amnesia is, serving as a showcase not just for Koolhoven’s skills as a director but for van Houten’s abilities as an actor as well. The movie is nicely paced and quite stylish and it does an interesting job of explore themes of teenage angst and the frustration with day to day life that tends to accompany it.

    The second film is 1997’s Dark Light is a shorter one at fifty-five minutes in length. It stars Marc van Uchelen as a would-be thief and Viviane de Muynck as a home owner. When he breaks into her home, she pulls a shotgun on him and, without wanting to spoil the twists and turns that the movie takes during its running time, it soon becomes clear to him that she isn’t the innocent victim he’d hoped she would be.

    This is also a very solid offering from Koolhoven who, even early on in this project, shows great skill as a director. The movie is paced well, nicely shot and features some great twists.

    Trailers for each movie round out the extras on the second disc.

    The first pressing of this release also comes with some nice double-sided cover sleeve art and a slipcover featuring artwork by Peter Strain.

    AmnesiA - The Final Word:

    Cult Epics’ Blu-ray release of Martin Koolhoven’s AmnesiA offers up its intriguing feature in a fantastic presentation with some nice extras as well, and the limited edition includes a bonus disc with two equally enjoyable movies from the same director, also presented in great shape. All in all, this is an excellent package for this with a taste for quirky, European cinema and easily comes recommended.


    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Amnesia Blu-ray screen caps!

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