Pelican Blood Review

Nikko (Harry Treadaway) met Stevie (Emma Booth) on a suicide-watch website. They met in person, fell in love, then broke up. Nikko has consoled himself by devoting himself to his hobby, birdwatching, with his friends Bish (Ali Craig) and Cameron (Arthur Darvill). But then Stevie returns on the scene and Nikko falls for her all over again, despite his friends' warnings that she is less than stable and will destroy him...

Written by Cris Cole from a novel by Cris Freddi, shot in 2008, copyrighted 2009, Pelican Blood is a British, London-set, black comedy that had its British premiere at the 2010 Edinburgh Film Festival and makes its first commercial appearance on DVD in 2011. It's not a bad film by any means, but it's simply not funny enough, or not sharp enough, to really hit the spot.

To some extent it tries too hard to be quirky, to the extent where Nikko's actions don't always make sense. There's a scene where he walks naked through a friend's apartment while a (female) estate agent is visiting – then, when given a dressing gown to cover himself up, he makes crude gestures to the agent. Hardly sympathetic.

As for Stevie, Australian actress Emma Booth (who was Jill in Clubland, winning an AFI Award for Best Supporting Actress) does her best with a role that's a compendium of crazy-chick stereotypes. There's more than a whiff of male fantasy too, most noticeably in a scene where she walks around topless in front of a male visitor. The rest of the cast are competent enough. Karl Golden's direction simply isn't strong enough or stylish enough to shape the material, and relies too much on handheld camerawork, a tic that's already beginning to seem dated. Doctor Who fans will note Arthur Darvill, two years before he played Amy Pond's boyfriend Rory.

The Disc: Icon's DVD release of Pelican Blood is a dual-layered disc encoded for Region 2 only.

The DVD transfer is in the ratio of 1.85:1 and is anamorphically enhanced. The film was shot in Super 16mm, blown up to 35mm for cinema prints. Inevitably, the result is grainier and not as slick as a 35mm-originated film would be, but not unduly so. The colours are vibrant and shadow detail is good.

The film has quite an active soundtrack in Dolby Digital 5.1, with some noticeable directional/surround use, especially in the street scenes. The bass of the music selections makes good use of the subwoofer. There are optional subtitles for the hard-of-hearing.

The only extra is a making-of documentary (18:58), presented in non-anamorphic 16:9. It's a fairly standard item, containing interviews, extracts from the film, and making-of footage. Camille Benda (the costume designer) makes a rather telling comment, in that she aimed for the costume design to be timeless and not obviously evoking 2008 – just as well, given that we're now seeing it three years later.

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