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No synopsis for Speaking Parts.
For more about Speaking Parts and the Speaking Parts Blu-ray release, see Speaking Parts Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on July 21, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Arsinée Khanjian, Gabrielle Rose, Tony Nardi, Gerard Parkes
Director: Atom Egoyan
» See full cast & crew
Speaking Parts Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, July 21, 2013
Winner of Best Canadian Screenplay Award at the Vancouver International Film Festival, Atom Egoyan's "Speaking Parts" (1989) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Artificial Eye. There are no supplemental features on this release. In English, without optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
Canadian director Atom Egoyan's third feature film follows closely three very different characters. The first, Lance (Michael McManus, Paint Cans, Blissestraße), is an aspiring young actor who cleans the rooms in an expensive hotel somewhere in downtown Toronto. Lance is also a gigolo with a terrific reputation.
Lisa (Arsinee Khanjian, Next of Kin, Family Viewing) is a chambermaid in the same hotel. She is obsessed with Lance, which is why she frequently visits a local video store where she rents his films. Lance is only an extra in them and never utters a single word, but Lisa does not care. She is convinced that actors as enigmatic as Lance do not need lines to impress when they are in front of the camera.
When Clara (Gabrielle Rose, The Sweet Hereafter, Where the Truth Lies), an ambitious and idealistic screenwriter checks into the hotel, Lance decides that she is his ticket to success. He approaches her and then auditions for a part in her upcoming film. Later on, Lance also seduces Clara, but instead of making love they masturbate while watching each other via videophone.
Soon after, Lance, Lisa, and Clara undergo dramatic character transformations. Through a series of events, they all come to realize that their dreams have altered their perceptions of reality and alienated them. They promptly adjust their ambitions and goals and in the process discover that technology can destroy one's life just as quickly as it can improve it.
Speaking Parts is one of Egoyan's darkest and most thought-provoking films. Portions of it remind of Steven Soderbergh's Sex, Lies, and Videotape, which was also released in 1989, but the notable lack of dark humor pushes the film in a completely different territory. Instead of trying to entertain Speaking Parts essentially delivers a series of very unsettling warnings.
Speaking Parts has the unique atmosphere the majority of Egoyan's best films are known for - it frequently feels like the main characters visit two entirely different worlds, one being quite surreal, the other plain and ordinary. In the first Egoyan typically satirizes everything he feels is wrong with the world he lives in. For example, the fact that in this film's most bizarre sequences Lance, Lisa, and Clara achieve some emotional and physical satisfaction while staring at TV monitors clearly points to Egoyan's concern that technology is not only disrupting people's lives but altering how they connect and treat each other. Of course, a lot has changed since the early '90s and this frustration now feels somewhat dated because all of the bizarre behavior – the video sex, video conversations and confessions, etc. – is now largely seen as completely normal. The other big change is that most of it has been transferred from the small and lonely hotel and conference rooms to a much bigger place – the Internet.
The film's visual style is quite extraordinary. The frequent blending of video and film footage makes it look as edgy as David Cronenberg's Videodrome. However, the different attitude towards sex makes Speaking Parts a drastically different film.
Some of the most atmospheric sequences in the film are enhanced by top-notch tracks composed by Mychael Danna. The music is soft, relaxing and very sexy. (Danna has collaborated with Egoyan on a number of different films. Arguably his best work is in the Canadian director's terrific The Adjuster).
Speaking Parts Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Atom Egoyan's Speaking Parts arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Artificial Eye.
Depth and clarity are very pleasing. Excluding the video footage, contrast levels are also stable. The film's color-scheme is also dramatically improved - the prominent blues, in particular, now look healthy and vibrant; on the R1 DVD release Zeitgeist Films produced years ago they look disappointingly flat. There are no traces of problematic degraining corrections. Edge-enhancement is also not an issue of concern. Excluding some light compression artifacts which I noticed early into the film (inside the video store), compression is also very good. There are no serious stability issues to report in this review. Also, there are no large cuts, damage marks, stains, or warps. All in all, I can categorically state that this is the very best this low-budget film has ever looked on any home video format. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray release. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Speaking Parts Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray release: Dolby Digital 2.0. For the record, Artificial Eye have not provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
It is unfortunate that this release does not come with a lossless track, but the lossy track is actually surprisingly good. In the sequences where Mychael Danna's music becomes prominent, depth is rather pleasing. Clarity is also good. Overall dynamic intensity, however, is quite limited, but this should not be surprising considering the low-budget nature of the film as well as the fact that dialog is limited.
Speaking Parts Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Most unfortunately, there are no supplemental features to be found on this Blu-ray release.
Speaking Parts Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Dark, stylish, and thought-provoking, Atom Egoyan's Speaking Parts is the type of film one can see multiple times and always discover something new in it. It is without a doubt one of the best North American independent films from the early '90s. Kudos to Artificial Eye for bringing Egoyan's films to Blu-ray. What a treat! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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Speaking Parts Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Upcoming Artificial Eye Releases - April 15, 2013
Independent British distributors Artificial Eye have informed us that they are planning to release three films on Blu-ray in July: Bernardo Bertolucci's Me and You (2012), and Atom Egoyan's Speaking Parts (1989) and The Adjuster (1991).
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