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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - October, 2011

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"Cider House Rules" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Clements

movie-october-2011-cider-house-rules

Synopsis

Homer Wells (Tobey Maguire) is an orphan at St. Cloud's Orphanage in Maine.  He is twice adopted as a toddler, but is retuned by the first couple because he didn't cry enough.  Later, he is rescued from his second adoptive family by the orphanage director, Dr. Larch (Michael Caine), as this second couple was physically abusing the young boy.  Then Dr. Larch takes Homer under his wing and grooms him to be his successor.  Dr. Larch teaches Homer how to deliver babies and how to perform abortions although Homer is not at all interested in performing abortions himself.  Everything changes one day when an American pilot, Lt. Wally Worthington (Paul Rudd), brings his pregnant girlfriend, Candy (Charlize Theron), to the orphanage for an abortion.  Homer decides to leave with them and see the world.  Homer gets a job at Wally's apple farm and that is when he begins to learn the most important lessons of his life.

Specifications

  • Miramax
  • 1999, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hr 5 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Codec: AVC
  • 1080p
  • English 5.0 DTS-HD Master
  • Starring Tobey Maguire, Charlize Theron, Delroy Lindo, Paul Rudd and Michael Caine
  • Directed by Lasse Hallström
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Mild
  • Sex: Nudity
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

This movie was nominated for a total of 7 Academy Awards in 2000, taking home two that year - Michael Caine for Best Supporting Actor and John Irving for the best Adapted Screenplay.  The screenplay was adapted from the Irving novel of the same name. 

This movie grapples with some very serious and at times morose elements.  It does this in a compelling and engaging narrative through characters who are  living Stateside during WWII.  This film paints most of these characters with sharp lines.  But the reposed Homer breaks through to experience a renaissance in his own life. The main plot aspects of the movie are abortion and incest.  The thematic tone hinges on the relationships between children and their real or ersatz parental figures.  I found this movie to be very well directed, competently acted and I was engaged from beginning to end by way of the complex interplays among the characters.  The direction and musical score are top notch efforts as well.

Technical

The video quality is soft and muted in the indoor scenes of the orphanage with an obvious cepia hue.  Scenes at the apple farm, at the drive-in and on the beach are much more detailed with improved contrast, color saturation and sharpness.  This may have been a directorial decision and the effect does set some of the tone for each setting in the film.  In any event, the image quality falls short of the very best transfers.   

The audio is presented in DTS-HD Master without an LFE channel.  This is not a major shortcoming as there are very few audio effects to speak of.  Certainly, the voices are clear and easily understood.  Likewise, the beautiful musical score by Rachel Portman comes through famously.

Extras

There are a few extras on the disc.  They are presented in standard definition - Audio Commentary with Director Lasse Hallström, Screenwriter John Irving and Producer Richard N. Gladstein, The Cider House Rules: The Making Of An American Classic, Deleted Scenes and The Theatrical Trailer.