DVD reviews
This Month's Featured Equipment Reviews
ZenWave Cables and SurgeX ZenWave Edition Review
REDGUM BLACK RGi35ENR Integrated Amplifier Review
Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL 2.0 Headphone Amp & Preamp Review
iFi Micro iUSB 3.0 & Gemini USB Cable Reviews
Marantz M-CR611 Network CD Receiver Review
Latest AV News
Most Popular DVD Reviews
Past DVD Hardware / Software News
Fearless Print E-mail
Tuesday, 01 June 2004

Warner Home Video
starring: Jeff Bridges, Isabella Rossellini, Rosie Perez, Tom Hulce
release year: 1993
film rating: Three-and-a-Half Stars
sound/picture: Three-and-a-Half Stars
reviewed by: Abbie Bernstein

It may be that there are two different ‘Fearless’ films that the audience experiences simultaneously, the intellectual version and the visceral version. For some, the latter stikes a primal nerve. After a press screening prior to the film’s 1994 theatrical release, about half a dozen viewers were weeping in the restroom. These were not polite, socially acceptable, wasn’t-that-a-moving-experience tears, but rather agonized wracking sobs. While seeing ‘Fearless’ in the relative privacy of a home setting may not create the communal gestalt that the theatrical version did, it’s still a powerful -- albeit not entirely satisfying -- film.

Chapter 1 sets us down in a cornfield moments after a commercial passenger jet has crashed there (sound and picture are both at their best here). We meet survivor Max Klein (Jeff Bridges), who is physically almost unharmed by the ordeal; we learn that he has both directly and indirectly saved a number of his fellow passengers. Max feels just fine, but suddenly feels compelled to tell the absolute truth as he sees it on all topics; he is also driven to test the limits of his mortality by walking through traffic, standing on skyscraper ledges and crashing his car. His wife (Isabella Rossellini) and young son are alternately bewildered, hurt, furious and scared. Meanwhile, Max reaches out to Carla (Rosie Perez), a young woman who lost her little boy in the crash and is now teetering on the edge of sanity.

‘Fearless’ is by turns fascinating, enigmatic, striking and off-putting. The opening is a grabber; so is Max’s surprising version of therapy in Chapter 23 and the actual crash depicted in Chapters 29 and 30. Instead of the expected sound effects, director Peter Weir contrasts the shocking imagery with the gentle strains of the Gorecki Symphony #3, reproduced lushly on the DVD audio track.

Bridges is complex and commanding as Max, authentic at all times. However, both the performer and the script by Rafael Yglesias (based on his novel) hint at revelations on matters that remain ambiguous. Why, for instance, is Max so driven to behavior that verges on cruelty to his family? If he were truly fearless, he wouldn’t feel obliged to prove himself via death-defying feats, so perhaps he seeks to disconnect himself from life by distancing himself from loved ones, but this is never defined. Also, perhaps in an attempt to avoid diluting the intensity of Carla’s grief, the filmmakers have given her few other personality attributes apart from religious devotion. She doesn’t entirely hold up as an individual in her own right, but seems instead primarily a catalyst for Max’s quest and a lightning rod for our sympathy.

Intriguing points are raised here about what reactions are "appropriate" when confronted with trauma; the subect is handled here with intelligence and bite. Interspersed throughout the film with increasing detail, the crash sequences are riveting, full of nuance and devoid of phony sentiment, so strong that we don’t doubt the incident’s transforming effect on those who live through it. However, these scenes alone cannot account for the ultimate impact of ‘Fearless,’ which profoundly moves and disturbs even as we may consciously question or even dismiss the characters’ actions.

more details
sound format:
English Dolby Surround Stereo; French Dolby Surround Stereo
aspect ratio(s):
1:3:3 (full-screen, modified from original aspect ratio)
special features: French Language Track; English Closed-Captioning; Chapter Search
comments: email us here...
reference system
DVD player: Kenwood DV-403
receiver: Kenwood VR-407
main speakers: Paradigm Atom
center speaker: Paradigm CC-170
rear speakers: Paradigm ADP-70
subwoofer: Paradigm PDR-10
monitor: 27-inch Toshiba

Like this article? Bookmark and share with any of the sites below.
Digg!Reddit!Del.icio.us!Google!StumbleUpon!Yahoo!Free social bookmarking plugins and extensions for Joomla! websites!

  home theater news  |  equipment reviews 
  blu-ray reviews  |  dvd  |  theatrical reviews  
  music download reviews  |  music disc reviews
  contact  |  about-us  |  careers   |  brands 
  RSS   |  AVRev Forums
  front page  |  virtual tours  |  dealer locator
  how to features  |   lifestyle & design articles
  Want Your Home Theater Featured on MHT?
   CE Partners: HDD  |  HDF  |  VGT  |  SD  |  DVD
  Advertise with Us | Specs | Disclaimer | Sponsors
  privacy policy | cookie policy | terms of use
  909 N. Sepulveda Blvd. El Segundo, CA 90245
  Ads: 310.280.4476 | Contact Us
  Content: 310.280.4575 | Mike Flacy