Out on a Limb Review
Felix Limb (Henry Goodman) is an obnoxious TV chef whose star is on the wane. On the final day of shooting for his show – 'Out on a Limb' – Felix invites some of the crew and other friends to his house for a dinner party. The guests include a journalist, the writer of a book about sexual dynamics, and Felix's PA who is also the young woman he's currently having an affair with. Of course, Felix's wife also attends the dinner party, and just before the guests arrive Felix takes a phone call telling him his show has been cancelled, which precipitates some of the evening's events.
As the dinner party gets started, the house is broken into by a couple of armed men intent on holding a bank manager hostage – except that they’ve picked the wrong house and now find themselves in a tricky situation. Soon police line the streets and most assuredly the 'wrong' man is being held hostage inside. At first it's all the dinner party guests can do to try and keep their calm and also to placate their hostage-takers, but events move on apace once Limb hears from his agent that the 'crisis' is doing wonders for his flagging TV career.
And naturally black comedy stems from this moment, when all those being held 'against their will' change their minds and very much want the situation to continue, much to the bemusement of these remarkably intelligent and refined 'criminals'. Personal connections are made between hostages and hostage-takers and Felix takes it upon himself to continue with his dinner party while conspiring with almost everyone present on how to turn the situation to their benefit (including discussing film and book rights). The problem with the film is that this concept is taken way too far and the script lacks the subtlety to truly make a great narrative experience from these rather thready basics.
The cast do a decent job; the film's failure generally doesn't lie with the acting, even if it is a little over-the-top at times. The writing simply isn’t tight enough. Also, it feels as if the production team was desperate to tie up any loose ends, and the result is an unsatisfying film that doesn't manage to hit either its comedic or dramatic marks often enough in order to entirely justify itself. It's not some terrible film I'd walk out of in the middle, but it doesn't stand out in any way either, and it smacks of another British 'comedy' that misses the mark, albeit in this case the writers/directors were clearly aiming for a black comedy.
The picture is presented in a 16:9 anamorphic transfer and the video quality is fine overall. A little grainy perhaps, but I think this is more to do with a conscious stylistic choice on the director's part. Colours are good across the board, solid and true with natural skin tones and deep blacks. Overall, it's more or less how I'd have expected the film to look.
The audio is a fairly standard stereo presentation with clear dialogue throughout. There's quite a bit of music in the film; Felix owns a large collection of classical music which we get a few snippets of, and there's also plenty of incidental music present. At times I found the music louder than seemed really necessary, but fortunately not quite to the point where it fogged the actual dialogue.
It's always good to be able to report that there are special features on a DVD (especially when the release isn't particularly high-profile) and the two extras included here make for diverting, if not essential, viewing. First is a short film by Robert Heath entitled 'Cereal Killer' which I found quite entertaining with good performances throughout. It's a whimsical piece but the concise nature of a short complemented the structure of the narrative and I found myself enjoying it.
The other extra is a short documentary featuring brief clips of the cast and crew discussing Out on a Limb It's fine but not engrossing traditional 'making-of' featurette.
Out on a Limb is a small production which showcases some decent acting and ideas ensconced in an unfortunately mediocre narrative. This came as a great disappointment, as there was definitely some potential in there. This DVD release combines adequate picture and sound transfers with a couple of interesting extras which certainly make it a better prospect than catching this film in the cinema.
Last updated: 19/04/2018 04:50:14