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Deep In The Heart (Fun City Editions) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Deep In The Heart (Fun City Editions) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Fun City Editions
    Released on: April 2nd, 2024.
    Director: Tony Garnett
    Cast: Karen Young, Clayton Day
    Year: 1983
    Purchase From Amazon

    Deep In The Heart– Movie Review:

    Helmed by British filmmaker Tony Garnett, 1983’s Deep In The Heart (released as Handgun internationally) stars Karen Young as a young woman named Kathleen Sullivan who makes the move from a small town in Massachusetts to Dallas, Texas to take a new job as a school teacher. It doesn’t take her long to develop a social circle and start making friends and soon enough, she’s pretty comfortable in her new home town.

    Not too long after her arrival, she meets a man who is a few years older than her named Larry (Clayton Day), a lawyer introduced to her by a co-worker. He’s clearly very attracted to her from the instant they meet, but Kathleen just isn’t interested in a boyfriend now and, fairly politely, lets him know this. It’s clear, however, that Larry is an alpha-male type who not only feels the need to explain everything to Kathleen, who doesn’t need him to do this as she’s very intelligent, and who doesn’t like to take no for an answer. Eventually she concedes and accepts an invitation to his place for dinner. It’s then and there that he pulls a gun and rapes her. Larry does this under the guise of helping Kathleen get over her own insecurities, it’s for her own good in his view, but it isn’t in the least bit consensual and is very clearly sexual assault.

    Kathleen is, of course, upset and traumatized by this event. It shatters her world, causes her to question her Catholic faith and the value of her social circle. Not wanting to go through this again, she reports the assault but as she has no proof, the authorities brush her off. Hoping to get revenge sooner rather than later, she joins a local gun club and purchases a handgun and cuts off the pretty blonde hair that Larry was so enamored with in the first place. Becoming far more assertive almost immediately, it’s clear that Kathleen sets out to see that justice is served even if the system is rigged against her.

    While Deep In The Heart is technically a rape/revenge picture, those expecting harder-edged exploitation offered by other genre entries like ultra-sleazy I Spit On Your Grave or the stylish and ‘cool’ Ms. 45 may be taken aback by the fact that this is just as much a pensive look at American gun culture as it is anything else. That isn’t to say that this isn’t a good movie – in fact, it’s a very good movie – but it isn’t a slam bang shoot’em up at all.

    The rape scene in the film is effective to the point that it’s deeply unsettling to watch. Whereas in some films tied to this genre the rape scene is played for exploitative thrills, in Deep In The Heart it’s anything but. We watch as poor Kathleen is not only physically and sexually abused by emotionally and mentally put through the ringer as well. As Larry knows that, since this is Texas in the 1980s, he’ll get away with this and should Kathleen report the assault it’ll cause her nothing but problems, he has no qualms whatsoever about forcing her to do what he wants her to do under penalty of physical harm or even death.

    Performances are strong. Karen Young, in her film debut (she’d go on to play Carla Brody in Jaws: The Revenge!), does an excellent job here. We understand and have nothing but sympathy for her plight and her performance completely wins us over. On the flip side, Clayton Day is just as good as the film’s villain, playing Larry as so arrogant and self-assured and such a product of his misogynistic environment that we can’t help but dislike him immensely even before he sexually assaults Kathleen.

    Garnett’s British upbringing sees him deliver an outsiders look at American culture in general and American gun culture specifically and this gives the movie a very different vibe than you might expect. But he paces the film well and the picture boasts strong production values, good cinematography and decent use of music.

    Deep In The Heart– Blu-ray Review:

    Deep In The Heart arrives on Blu-ray from Fun City Editions in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen on a region free 50GB disc “restored in 4k from its original 35mm camera negative” and it looks excellent. There’s plenty of natural film grain here but not much in the way of print damage outside of a handful of small white specks here and there, mostly noticeable when optical are used in the opening credits sequence. Colors look nice and natural, never oversaturated, and we get solid black levels too. Skin tones look good and there’s impressive depth and detail accompanying the impressive texture evident throughout the movie.

    The only audio option on the disc is a 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track in English with optional subtitles provided in English only. There are some bits that sound just a tad flat but overall, the audio quality here is just fine. The track is properly balanced and despite the occasional line of muffled dialogue, things are generally quite easy to understand and follow. The score and music used in the movie also sounds pretty solid.

    The main extra on the disc is a commentary track from Erica Shultz and Chris O’Neill. It goes over Karen Young's performance, the Dallas locations featured in the movie (as well as the significance of some of those locations), how and why this British production wound up being made in America, Tony Garntt's life and career, how the movie reflects and depicts American culture and Texas in general, the documentary style used on the feature, the use of music in the film, thoughts on the performances in the movie and the characters that the actors portray, why the camera lingers on certain activities in the film that might seem commonplace to American viewers, thoughts on the rape/revenge genre overall and how people can sometimes react to them as well as why people watch them, how the movie compares to other rape/revenge movies, real life rape cases that may have had an impact on the story, the effectiveness of a few stand out moments and how the cinematography enhances their impact, the depiction of Kathleen's Catholic faith and how it affects the character, how the movie was reviewed upon release, why the 'Handgun' title was changed for its U.S. release, the film's theatrical and home video distribution history and plenty more. This is worth listening to, as it gives a solid history of the film and does a nice job of peeling back the layers and exploring how it deals with its themes and ideas.

    Archival interview with producer/writer/director Tony Garnett that runs two minutes and sees him briefly summarize the plot before discussing how the movie deals with date rape and what happens in the aftermath as well as American gun culture.

    The disc also includes at trailer for the feature, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection options.

    This release comes packaged with some reversible cover sleeve art, a limited edition slipcover with art by Tom Ralston, and an insert booklet containing a new essay by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas titled ‘Rape Revenge Goes West.’

    Deep In The Heart- The Final Word:

    Deep In The Heart is as much a pensive look at the effects of sexual assault and American gun culture as it is a female vigilante rape/revenge film, but it works and it works well thanks to some interesting directorial choices and very strong performances from the two leads. The Blu-ray release from Fun City Editions looks and sounds quite good and features some decent extras, highlighted by an interesting commentary track. Recommended, this is a lesser known film worth seeing.


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

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    Ian Jane
    Administrator
    Last edited by Ian Jane; 05-28-2024, 03:43 PM.
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