'The Passion of Darkly Noon' [Blu-ray]
(Brendan Fraser, Ashley Judd, Viggo Mortensen, Loren Dean, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1995) 2019 / Arrow Films UK)
Overview: After the death of his strictly religious parents, forlorn young Darkly gets lost in the woods. A truck driver, Jude, rescues the exhausted man, who has only a bible for comfort.
He brings him to the house of Callie and Clay, two lovers who live in the forest. While Clay is away in the forest, beautiful Callie nurses Darkly back to health, and he develops an obsession with her that is totally contrary to his upbringing - a sexual obsession!
Blu-ray Verdict: Described by critic Mark Kermode as an extraordinary filmmaker and one of the UK s most imaginative talents, visionary British director Philip Ridley followed his sensational debut 'The Reflecting Skin' with another surreal incursion into the dark heart of the American dream in, 'The Passion of Darkly Noon.'
Darkly Noon (Brendan Fraser) is the sole survivor of a military-style attack on an isolated religious community. Stumbling through a forest in a daze, he is rescued by the free-spirited and enigmatic Callie (Ashley Judd).
Darkly finds himself feeling strange new desires for Callie as she nurses him back to health only to watch her jump into the arms of her returning mute lover Clay (Viggo Mortensen).
Lost in the woods with only his fundamentalist upbringing to make sense of his unrequited passions, Darkly soon descends into an explosive and lethal rage.
Simply put, this film is a powerful study of obsession, set in an abstract fantasy world. It is beautiful in so many ways, from the stunning surroundings, to the haunting score, to the exceptional acting from Brendan Fraser as a man driven to madness by the conflict inside him.
It is essentially a tragedy, where everyone loses and you can still feel sorry for Darkly despite everything he does. It doesn't have a complex plot or highly developed characters: it is essentially like a short story rather than a novel, a snapshot of the demise of the main character, but done so effectively as to immerse you completely in the vast forest and leave you thinking about what has transpired long after the film has ended.
Ashley Judd comes on like a distant relative of Laura Palmer who exists in a parallel universe, just as Viggo Mortensen is the "flip" side of killer BOB; his life energy channeled into his potent sexuality and the strong feelings he has for Judd's character; rather than the Essence of Pure Evil, which is why he's a lightweight when the time comes to confront a raging Noon.
Peaks gets more homage paid to it by the way the dreamy German forest locales are shot and lit. DP John de Borman takes more than a few cues from the work of Ron Garcia on both the Peaks series and the movie.
Watch the cave scenes and the river scenes closely. One comes to suspect that if you peeked inside that giant silver shoe floating down the river, you'd find a dead body inside, wrapped in plastic.
Where the similarities between Ridley's movie and Lynch's work begin and end is pretty simple. After 'The Passion of Darkly Noon,' I could calmly find my way through the darkness of my own home, to get a drink of water in the middle of the night, and not think about it.
However, with Lynch's best and most alarming work, (the TP movie and, of course, 'Lost Highway'), I wouldn't dare do that!
Something about darkness in a Lynch film equates it with the depths of the basest impulses hidden in the human soul. To use a very profound quote from a B-movie I saw: "It's not the dark I'm afraid of; it's what's IN the dark."
In closing, 'The Passion of Darkly Noon' is truly a work of art, and having seen Philip Ridley's other work 'The Reflecting Skin,' I can count myself as a great admirer of his style of moviemaking. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
New 2K restoration by Arrow Films from the original camera negative, approved by Philip Ridley
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD MA audio
English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
New audio commentary by writer/director Philip Ridley
Isolated score track in lossless stereo, including never-before-heard extended and unused cues, and the two songs from the film
Sharp Cuts, a newly filmed interview with editor Leslie Healey
Forest Songs, a newly filmed interview with composer Nick Bicât
Dreaming Darkly, an archive featurette from 2015 featuring interviews with Ridley, Bicât and star Viggo Mortensen
Previously unreleased demos of the music score, written and performed by Bicât before filming started
Reversible sleeve featuring new and original artwork
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring a new Philip Ridley career retrospective written by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas
Now available for the first time worldwide on Blu-ray, Ridley's talent for spellbinding, hallucinogenic dream imagery is on full display in a glittering new transfer of his most formally inventive and electrifying film.
The mesmerizing soundtrack includes two songs co-written by Ridley for the film, 'Look What You've Done (To My Skin)' performed by Gavin Friday and 'Who Will Love Me Now?' performed by PJ Harvey.
'The Passion of Darkly Noon' Original Movie Trailer