State Affairs Review

The Film

imageLike many of you, I guess, I am a bit lost about the difference between TV and movies these days. As part of the press for Beyond the Candelabra, Steven Soderbergh, one of our more talented modern directors, has been stating that all the quality work is being done in TV with the big screen obsessed with plotless, deafening blockbusters of little dramatic merit. More confusion is created by noting that TV has become a more certain employment for many stalwarts of its bigger brother cinema, and cast lists for projects like Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire and House of Cards suggest that the little brother has more than attained peer status.

TV does retain the ability to have longer running times, subtler story development and a larger canvass to paint, and cinema still retains bigger budgets, better FX and hotter stars. Some film-makers now work effortlessly in both - the director of Thor 2 is the director of episodes of Game of Thrones, for instance - and for audiences this can lead to a real confusion over what is a big screen outing and what isn't. Last time, I watched Eric Valette's, director of State Affairs, work was series 2 of Braquo featuring a starry French cast for a TV outing, here we review his less starry, similarly policier driven cinema outing of a year or so before.imageAndre Dussolier plays shadowy fixer, Bonnard, engaged on paying a ransom on behalf of the French government in the coin of black market weapons to Congolese rebels. His best efforts as the go-between for his government come unstuck when the cargo of weapons is shot down mid-air due to a leak, and he sets his henchman Fernandez off to find out who and why as the French public get ready to vote his unacknowledged employers in or out of office. Fernandez leaves bodies in his wake, and soon has top cop Rachida Brakni on the case. With political games being played, spies involved and the hostages at stake, right and wrong are lost in the mix.

Now, this is a political thriller without any conviction other than bad people sometimes prosper. The depiction of political figures is free of any caricature other than global cynicism; sleaze, drugs and death are simply the milieu in which these characters sink or swim and the idealistic cop and the unfortunate minions are either swallowed up or destroyed by it all. The number of characters and the amount of action means there is a lack of rounded development for the people in the tale, and the mode of shooting emphasises collusion through endless double head shots and claustrophobic two-shots. The basic message is that this is a grubby amoral world.imageThe acting is good, the dialogue is well written and the turns of events credible at every point. Yet, this rather insular film has a smaller scope and a limited reach which suits smaller screen more than multiplex. In fact, it's all so neatly wrapped up that it does feel like a two parter on the goggle box rather than a project trying to affect how you see the real world. State Affairs is solid, entertaining but unsurprising fare that suits home viewing well.

The DVD

Available for under a tenner, Arrow give the film a bare-bones release on a region 2 locked single layer disc. A trailer reel plugs Braquo and Maison Close, but otherwise no extras are offered. The transfer is presented in the 2.35:1 ratio, with minor grain and a modern blue tinted aesthetic where autumnal colours and greys predominate. I did notice a little aliasing but detail is impressive and a film-like appearance is not affected by any excessive filtering or edge enhancement, contrast is good enough, even if darker sequences evidence a little too much blue to my eye.imageTwo strong audio options are included with good bit-rates and removable English subs. The 5.1 mix includes some effects in the rears and plenty of musical coverage, although voices are from the fronts - a solid if un-dynamic surround track.

Summary

Solid political thriller given ok transfer.

Film
7 out of 10
Video
6 out of 10
Audio
7 out of 10
Extras
1 out of 10
Overall

6

out of 10

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