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Lola (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Lola (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: April 30th, 2024.
    Director: Andrew Legge
    Cast: Emma Appleton, Stefanie Martini, Rory Fleck Byrne
    Year: 2022
    Purchase From Amazon

    Lola – Movie Review:

    Irish filmmakers Andrew Legge’s 2022 movie, ‘Lola’, which was made during Covid-19 lockdowns, is a wildly creative movie made in the found footage style that defies expectations, provides plenty of food for thought and manages to make for a pretty gripping watch.

    The story is set in England as World War II looms, and it follows a scientist named Thomasina ‘Thom’ Hanbury (Emma Appleton) who has created a broadcast receiver that, due to her knowledge of quantum physics, has been converted into a machine dubbed Lola. Her sister Martha (Stefanie Martini), or Mars to her friends, is Thom’s partner in this and their work on Lola has given them the ability to receive broadcasts from the future – ranging from the very near future to even a few decades. Mars is intrigued by this initially, taking in everything that Lola is able to show them and enjoying events such as the birth of rock and roll and the advent of David Bowie, but when they uncover a broadcast that shows them how the Nazis bomb England they decide to use their newly found foresight to warn the British populace, theoretically saving a lot of lives in the process, all while the two sisters sip champagne in their remote country home.

    This act of heroism sees them dubbed ‘The Angel Of Portobello’ and, understandably, the British military wants to know how this happened. An officer named Sebastian Holloway (Rory Fleck Byrne) manages to find them and realizes the benefits that Lola can provide in their fight against the Germans, but Major Hobcroft (Aaron Monaghan), who is Holloway’s commanding officer, isn’t exactly the type to keep things quiet, which is exactly what Holloway wants to do here.

    As the use of Lola shifts the way in England’s favor, Hobcraft takes all the credit but things take a dark turn when the Nazis manage to plant a broadcast accepted by Lola and taken as gospel by the British. Meanwhile, Mars and Holloway fall for one another, but their romance is quickly dashed by world events set into motion by the use of Lola to win the war.

    Shot on 16mm black and white film stock in order to replicate vintage newsreel footage, ‘Lola’ is a pretty intriguing seventy-nine minute film that deals with the effects of time travel in atypical and interesting ways. The production values are as good as they should be, meaning that despite some inaccuracies in the timeline, the ‘newsreel’ style footage works in the context of the story being told and allows us to quite easily suspend our disbelief and go along for the ride that Legge wants to take us on. The end result is a gritty, grainy looking movie that is surprisingly convincing when it needs to be, even as it takes us into some pretty grim territory.

    The acting is strong across the board from the four main leads. Emma Appleton and Stefanie Martini are both great as the two sisters whose collaborative work on this strange invention sets all of the film’s events into motion. Both of their performances allow each actress to effectively and convincingly demonstrate a whole range of emotions and they both do it very well. Rory Fleck Byrne is solid here as well, playing the nice guy with enough charm that we can buy him in the part, while Aaron Monaghan does a good job of playing his arrogant (and fairly thoughtless!) Lieutenant character to the hilt.

    When it’s all over with, ‘Lola’ proves to be a pretty wild ride but one that’s as though provoking as it is strangely compelling and wholly entertaining.

    Lola – Blu-ray Review:

    ‘Lola’ arrives on Blu-ray from Severin Films with in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.33.1 widescreen on a region A 50GB and the black and white image, intentionally grainy, looks really strong. The stock footage is worked into the newly shot material pretty much seamlessly and while this doesn’t look super clean and polished, nor should it because it isn’t supposed to. Contrast looks good and there are no noticeable issues with compression artifacts, edge enhancement or noise reduction quirks.

    Audio options are provided in 24-bit DTS-HD 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo Master Audio options, with removable subtitles available in English only. The 5.1 mix is the way to go if you’re set up for it, as the rear channel activity adds a bit of interesting depth to the mix, but both tracks sounds clean, clear and properly balanced.

    An audio commentary with Co-Writer/Director Andrew Legge and Producer Alan Maher is up first, as far as the extra features go. They cover a lot of ground here, discussing the conditions under which the movie was made, the use of stock footage and green screen effects, casting the picture, the use of music in the movie, where a lot of the ideas for some of the concepts that they explore in the film initially came from, working with the cast and crew and loads more. It’s an interesting and thorough discussion well-worth listening to.

    The disc also features a six minute featurette titled ‘The Making Of Lola’ that sees Legge (and his dog) and Maher talk about the use of archival footage in the movie, where it was culled from, the importance of the internet in getting access to what they needed, going over how they matched the newly created footage to the archival footage as well as they were able to, music, casting and more.

    Also includes on the disc is a three minute outtake titled ‘Remember Tomorrow’ and a trailer for the feature.

    There are also two shot films directed by Legge included here, the first of which is ‘The Girl With The Mechanical Maiden’ from 2012 running sixteen minutes. It's shot in color and in widescreen and set in the Victorian age where it follows the story of a couple, the wife quite pregnant, as their child is born. When the mother dies in childbirth, the father enlists the aid of a robot surrogate to help, but when things go wrong the robot winds up raising the infant girl on its own. It's a interesting and beautifully shot film that mixes up sci-fi tropes, human drama, quirky comedy and a really distinct visual style loaded with period detail.

    'The Unusual Inventions Of Henry Cavendish’ from 2005 is a sixteen minute black and white piece made as a silent film set in Dublin in 1895 and following a young man as he works on his invention and falls in love with a beautiful young woman that passes by him in a horse drawn carriage. It's done very much in the vein of an old Charlie Chaplin movie, in fact that Henry character even looks like Chaplin a bit, and it's quite clever, frequently very funny and very well-made.

    Menus and chapter selection options are also provided.

    Lola - The Final Word:

    When it’s all over with, ‘Lola’ proves to be a pretty wild ride but one that’s as though provoking as it is strangely compelling and wholly entertaining. The Blu-ray release from Severin Films presents the film looking and sounding really good with some interesting extras thrown in to sweeten the deal, making this one easy to recommend to those with an interest in historical fiction, ‘what if’ stories and the kind of science fiction that doesn’t involve laser battles or spaceships!



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


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