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Philip Ridley
Brendan Fraser, Ashley Judd, Viggo Mortensen
Writing Credits:
Philip Ridley

An orphaned young man becomes romantically obsessed with a beautiful woman who gives him shelter.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English PCM 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 101 min.
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 3/24/2020

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Philip Ridley
• Isolated Score Track
• “American Dreams” Featurette
• “Eyes of Fire” Featurette
• “Sharp Cuts” Featurette
• “Forest Songs” Featurette
• “Dreaming Darkly” Featurette
• Pre-Shoot Music Demos
• Image Gallery
• Trailer


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The Passion of Darkly Noon [Blu-Ray] (1995)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 22, 2020)

With a title like The Passion of Darkly Noon, it becomes difficult to know what to expect from the 1995 film. As it happens, the movie brings a mix of thriller and psychological drama, albeit one with a quirky side implied by the odd title.

Raised as part of a religious cult, Darkly Noon (Brendan Fraser) becomes orphaned. When his parents die, he finds himself rudderless and simply wanders into the woods.

Eventually a trucker named Jude (Loren Dean) finds Darkly and assists. Jude takes Darkly to the remote home of Callie (Ashley Judd) and Clay (Viggo Mortensen), where they provide shelter.

And more, as Darkly becomes romantically obsessed with Callie. Distraught over these emotions, Darkly struggles to cope.

If you offered me a million bucks, I couldn’t muster any memory of this film’s existence. Honestly, I can’t even tell if Passion received any theatrical exhibition in the US, and given its oddball indie vibe, I probably shouldn’t feel surprised I never came across it at Blockbuster.

The cast offers some reason for intrigue, as all four actors I named enjoyed at least moderate fame. Dean never became much of a star, but his career has kept him active, and the other three became pretty well known.

Not so much in 1995, when Fraser and Dean fell into “rising star” territory, Judd was best-known as the relative of a popular country singing duo, and Mortensen hadn’t found anything other than supporting roles. While the cast adds intrigue now, they likely wouldn’t have made much of a dent 25 years ago.

Not that I could see a mass audience for a movie as willfully unconventional as Passion anyway. More allegory than story, the movie wanders down a mix of paths that lead it to nowhere in particular.

Much of the time, Passion feels like the awkward love child of Tennessee Williams and David Lynch. We find a property that often comes across as an adaptation of a stage play, with a limited set of locations and broad, theatrical personalities.

Man, does writer/director Philip Ridley like his unusual characters! These veer toward one-dimensional participants with little logical reason for their quirks other than to create a strange experience.

This makes Passion closer to weird than impactful, as all the odd shenanigans add up to little. I get a Donnie Darko vibe here, but only if Darko gave us a dull, meandering tale.

Like Darko, Passion feels self-indulgent, but the former compensates with enough content and substance to succeed. Passion just leans toward rambling quirks without anything more formal to back them.

None of the actors manage to do much with their roles. Fraser overdoes his stammer and looks mopey more than obsessed, while Judd seems lovely but vapid.

Poor Mortensen gets stuck in a mute role that forces him to whistle as “dialogue”. This ends up as silly as that sounds.

Maybe Passion boasts depth and meaning that don’t seem apparent on initial viewing, and maybe a second screening would open up these elements. I don’t plan to find out, as once is enough for this flick.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B

The Passion of Darkly Noon appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Within stylistic choices, this became a good presentation.

For the most part, sharpness satisfied. At times the image felt a little soft, but that appeared to stem more from photographic choices than issues with the transfer.

In any case, the movie usually looked well-defined, and I saw no issues with jagged edges or moiré effects. Edge haloes remained absent, and I saw no print flaws.

In terms of palette, Passion opted for a heavy yellow overtone, with blues and greens thrown in as well. The hues came across as intended, so while they seemed less than appealing, they appeared to match the photographic choices.

Blacks felt dark and deep, while shadows offered appropriate clarity – within those stylistic decisions, of course. This was an unusual-looking film, but the Blu-ray rendered it well.

In addition, the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 worked nicely for the material, and it opened up when necessary. Much of the film emphasized music and general atmosphere, but occasional scenes brought out more dynamic material.

These elements cropped up mainly via weather elements, though some other moments contributed active information as well. Gunshots used the soundscape well, as did the motion of vehicles. None of this felt rock-em sock-em, but the track used the audio a bit more than I might’ve anticipated.

Quality felt good, as speech seemed natural and concise, without edginess or other problems. Music sounded lively and rich.

Effects appeared accurate and full, with concise highs and deep lows. Though the nature of the material restrained the soundtrack’s impact, it still seemed like a good mix.

We get a mix of extras here, and these launch with an audio commentary from writer/director Philip Ridley. He provides a running, screen-specific look at the project’s origins and development, story and characters, cast and performances, inspirations and influences, sets and locations, themes and interpretation, visual design, costumes, cinematography, music, and other connected areas.

From start to finish, Ridley offers a splendid commentary. He touches on a wide array of topics, and he does so with engagement and wit. While I still don’t much care for Passion, this commentary allows me to appreciate what Ridley tried to do, so it succeeds.

An isolated score also can accompany the movie. It presents PCM stereo audio, so film music fans will enjoy it.

A few video pieces follow, and American Dreams provides a video essay. It spans 20 minutes, 43 seconds and provides notes from film historian James Flower.

He discusses aspects of Ridley’s films and other artistic works. Flower provides a useful examination of the director’s preferences and choices.

Next comes Eyes of Fire, a 22-minute, 14-second interview with cinematographer John de Borman. He chats about his career and his work on Passion during this informative reel.

Sharp Cuts lasts 16 minutes, eight seconds and brings notes from editor Les Healey. He covers his experiences on Passion and delivers another worthwhile piece.

Via Forest Songs, we find s 19-minute, 43-second interview with composer Nick Bicât as he looks at his score and connected domains. Expect a good chat that reveals interesting details.

A featurette from 2015, runs 16 minutes, 14 seconds and provides notes from Ridley, Bicât and actor Viggo Mortensen. They discuss aspects of Passion, with an emphasis on their particular experiences.

Some of this repeats from the commentary and prior programs, but the piece acts as a good overview. I especially like Mortensen’s discussion of his choice to remain mute through the shoot.

Three Pre-Shoot Music Demos appear: “Callie #1” (5:57), “Darkly” (11:34) and “Callie #2” (5:08). Fans of film scores should enjoy the chance to hear early versions of these themes.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we conclude with an Image Gallery. It offers 59 stills that cover movie elements and publicity. This turns into a decent compilation.

As an “early career” offering from a few notable actors, The Passion of Darkly Noon comes with novelty value. Unfortunately, its self-conscious oddness means it lacks substance. The Blu-ray comes with good picture and audio as well as a mix of bonus materials. Some will dig the film’s artsy pretensions, but it left me cold.

Viewer Film Ratings: 5 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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