Comfort of Strangers DVD review

Mary (Natasha Richardson) and Colin (Rupert Everett) are in Venice for a romantic getaway. They want to rekindle their love but in steps Robert (Christopher Walken), a local man with a Canadian wife Caroline (Helen Mirren). He is mysterious and slightly odd. The group become a collection of problems and disconnections.

Emotions are like rivers that flow into an ocean of feelings. In Paul Schrader’s world they are often breached by a sturdy dam. So his translation of Ian McEwan’s novel (from a script by Harold Pinter), would focus on the destructive tones of emotions running over. Counter acting the glorious Venice setting (akin to DONT LOOK NOW), Schrader directs it like an Italian opera, by way of a thriller. It may flag, both leads are hard to imagine in a relationship and the accent Walken sports is awful. However it simmers viciously.

Special features

  • Presented in High Definition and Standard Definition
  • Audio commentary by director Paul Schrader, newly recorded for this release
  • Prospectus for a Course Not Given: The Paul Schrader Film Masterclass (1982, 100 mins, audio only): Paul Schrader provides an illuminating precis of the film he had recently presented in America
  • Paul Schrader Guardian Interview (1993, 85 mins, audio only): the director discusses films and filmmaking with critic Derek Malcolm
  • Venice in War Time (1918, 1 min), The Glass Makers of Murano, Venice (1928, 4 mins), City Lights (1964, 3 mins): fascinating glimpses of Venice in archive film
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Fully illustrated booklet with full film credits and new writing by Director of Photography Dante Spinotti, film historian Dr Deborah Allison, Guardian theatre critic Michael Billington, and Little White Lies essayist Paul Fairclough


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