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Kevin Kline, Mary Elizabeth Mastroantonio, and Kevin Spacey heat up the screen in Consenting Adults, the spine-tingling sexy thriller that seduced audiences and critics alike. When two couples living next door to each other grow too close, one of the husbands risks everything for a passion he can't resist - his neighbor's wife. His temptation traps the foursome in a shocking web of betrayal and murder. And now accused of a crime he didn't commit, he must race against time to save his family from a shocking fate. Directed by master of suspense Alan J. Pakula, this erotic thriller twists and turns as tension builds to a sensational heart-stopping climax!
For more about Consenting Adults and the Consenting Adults Blu-ray release, see Consenting Adults Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 11, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Kevin Kline, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Kevin Spacey, Rebecca Miller, Forest Whitaker, E.G. Marshall
Director: Alan J. Pakula
» See full cast & crew
Consenting Adults Blu-ray Review
Shalt thou covet this Blu-ray release?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, May 11, 2011
What are friends for?
Don't believe the lies! Consenting Adults is a mature Thriller that's centered on a devious couple feeding falsehoods, temptations, and other assorted negative vibes to an otherwise clean-cut, happily-married twosome. It's a story about the consequences of sin, the dangers of deviousness, and the importance of holding firm to one's own moral compass and adhering to basic principles of honesty, integrity, and fidelity. But when one believes the lies and wallows in sin, evil strikes. OK, so the film might could very well be considered a metaphor for the importance of spirituality and Godly living, but it doesn't play that way, even if the message applies. Consenting Adults is a smoothly-crafted scare piece in the tradition of Fatal Attraction that takes on a different tone and structure but still follows the same basic principles that infidelity could very well be the death of someone engaged in even the most "innocent" little sexual escapade. Dark, thematically frightening, and emotionally terrifying, the film is as well-crafted as it is strongly-acted. It's a little too by-the-book to be considered a great movie, but Consenting Adults has all the other necessary ingredients, making it a solid little darkly erotic Thriller that hits all the right notes.
Jingle-writer Richard Parker (Kevin Kline, The Pink Panther) and his wife Priscilla (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Scarface) are living the dream as a suburban couple. They've got a nice house, a gifted daughter, and a stable marriage. One day, new neighbors move into the house next door. Eddie Otis (Kevin Spacey, American Beauty) is a master manipulator, always able to work the system and find the cash he needs to live comfortably. His wife Kay (Rebecca Miller) is a sultry small-time singer. It doesn't take long until the Parkers and the Otis's are best friends. It's almost as if each couple has brought something that was missing from the other's relationships, and they quickly become the happiest group in all the neighborhood. That all changes when Eddie approaches Richard with a proposition: a one-night wife swap. They will sneak into each other's bedrooms and make love to the other's wife while she's half asleep and unaware of the deception. Richard can't bear the thought -- though he's obviously attracted to Kay -- and turns Eddie down, in essence breaking off their friendship. When Priscilla pushes Richard for answers and it's clear that she's no longer happy without Eddie and Kay in her life, Richard agrees to the scheme, but as it turns out it will be one fling that he'll never forget.
Consenting Adults is a darkly-crafted film, one of physical shadows and psychological illusions and manipulations. It's a movie with an airtight premise, something that would be easy to see as the plot of a dusty old novel where the writer could really dig deep inside the minds of each of the four primary characters, because there just has to be a whole lot more going on than meets the eye that the film just can't convey. Still, this all works very well in movie form even considering the time restraints and limitations of film to more fully explore the psychological underpinnings that define the characters and their motivations. Scriptwriter Matthew Chapman (Color of Night) and Director Alan J. Pakula (The Pelican Brief) manage to hit every critical note, and hit it hard. The movie doesn't beat around the bush, so to speak, instead playing things straight and steady, slowly but surely diving into forbidden territory with sufficient, but not all-encompassing, insights into the characters and their psyches. It's the motivations and thought processes that lead the characters to engage in the various actions they choose throughout the movie that are the more fascinating of the structural elements, more so even than the consequences of the actions. While the former are not fully explored, it's pretty clear by the end that human greed and basic temptations of lust and wealth are fully at work in every character, and are once again the downfall of even the most stoic of individuals. It's an old story, but cast in a fairly interesting adult-oriented light here.
It wouldn't be right to label the performances in Consenting Adults as "powerhouse" efforts, but the foursome of Kevin Kline, Kevin Spacey, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and Rebecca Miller are quite good, each exuding at minimum a hint of sexual tension that helps to drive the plot, but it's in their ability to sink so completely into part as suburbanites who exude purity and goodness but behind closed doors and within the recesses of their hearts and minds yearn for something that even a postcard-perfect lifestyle can't offer them that the quality of the performances really take shape. Spacey is superb as a master manipulator, playing on human greed and sexual frustration to maneuver into a postion of power over his neighbors to get what he wants. Spacey's ability to so finely balance the false front of friendship and the hidden motives that he hopes will get him what he wants without himself suffering through the consequences of sin is a real treat to watch. Kevin Kline is nearly as good as the manipulated neighbor who sees danger at every turn but who, at the end of the day, simply cannot resist his natural urges and temptations, allowing the body to finally overtake the mind. When the film turns into a more conventional and bland whodunit mystery, his performance loses that gritty, outwardly nervous and inwardly terrified façade, but his effort in the film's first half is quite good. The ladies certainly play second fiddle to their male counterparts, but Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio delivers a solid performance as the one character most left in the figurative dark, while Rebecca Miller exudes sexy and sultry throughout, which is, of course, perhaps the most critical component to the picture's story and structure.
Consenting Adults Blu-ray, Video Quality
Consenting Adults debuts on Blu-ray with a good-looking 1080p, 1.78:1-framed transfer. This is so far the cleanest of the Mill Creek Touchstone/Hollywood catalogue releases in terms of pops and spots and scratches; they exist, but in far smaller quantities. However, the image is also sometimes relatively smooth, a bit unnaturally so, suggesting some noise reduction, but not enough to ruin or even drastically lessen the overal quality. Faces never look too smooth and pasty and detailing is adequate, but certainly not awe-inspiring. Indeed, clothing textures are fair, and the transfer nicely picks up some of the basic and fine details alike in the finely-appointed suburban homes. Colors are natural and pleasant and flesh tones aren't too rosy, but blacks waver between showing signs of crush and appearing a little washed out. Perhaps the single biggest problem is the occasional but readily visible blocking, which can lead to poor color gradations and chunky-looking backgrounds. Still, this is a fair effort that won't dazzle viewers, but Mill Creek's 1080p transfer is at least steady and watchable.
Consenting Adults Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Consenting Adults features a decent but underwhelming DTS-HD MA 2.0 lossless soundtrack. The track delivers good natural atmospherics that extend to the limits of the front speakers, doing a fair job of bringing the varied sound effects of suburbia to life. Music is another story; while Richard's jingles are played with energy, good spacing, and strong clarity, Michael Small's score often sounds quite cramped as it seems to struggle to really explode into something far more robust and satisfying than what's presented here. Indeed, it often sounds like it's stuck behind some kind of filter; it doesn't sound mushy or anything, just like it's in some way restricted from expressing all it has to offer. The track manages a few impressive sound effects of note, particularly a swarm of police sirens as heard in chapter seven that traverse the front half of the soundstage with a loud and natural posture. Dialogue is sometimes shallow, but is more often than not steady and center-accurate. This film by its nature isn't one that requires much from its soundtrack; Mill Creek's presentation could use a little work, but all things considered it's a decent enough listen.
Consenting Adults Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Consenting Adults agrees to provide no extras for this Blu-ray release.
Consenting Adults Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Consenting Adults is a dark and well-made adult Thriller. It's definitely better in its manipulative and mysterious first half than it is in its structural whodunit second half, but Director Alan J. Pakula's film is nevertheless engrossing and enticing from beginning to end. Supported by four strong performances from a quality ensemble cast that includes a wonderfully devious performance from master actor Kevin Spacey, Consenting Adults is a rewarding little movie that's equal parts entertaining and frightening. Mill Creek's Blu-ray release of Consenting Adults features fair video and audio, but no supplements. Considering the quality of the film and the studio's aggressive pricing, this release earns a recommendation.
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Consenting Adults Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blu-ray Wave from Mill Creek in May - March 25, 2011
On May 10, Mill Creek Entertainment will release 11 movies on Blu-ray: Betsy's Wedding, Big Business, Consenting Adults, Gross Anatomy, The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag, An Innocent Man, The Marrying Man, Money For Nothing, My Father the Hero, Straight Talk, and ...
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