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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasingly weird
Greenaway's films are always watchable for the cinematography, but in this one you can actually follow the story too. The plot is fairly simple but is padded out with descriptions of peculiar games that Madgett, the Suffolk coroner, and his strange son Smut invent to pass the time. Smut also celebrates any violent death (whether roadkill or drowned husbands) by painting...
Published on 27 Jun. 2004

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A dip in cold water
When I saw this film 20 years ago I thought it was one of the best, cleverest films I've ever seen. It's still very clever, and achingly beautifully shot, but there's something sterile about it. I can see why my coldly intellectual 18 year old self might love it, and now that I'm a bit more roadworn and experienced it seems emotionally thin. What the Americans would call...
Published 9 months ago by James Mulraine


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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasingly weird, 27 Jun. 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Drowning By Numbers [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Greenaway's films are always watchable for the cinematography, but in this one you can actually follow the story too. The plot is fairly simple but is padded out with descriptions of peculiar games that Madgett, the Suffolk coroner, and his strange son Smut invent to pass the time. Smut also celebrates any violent death (whether roadkill or drowned husbands) by painting a number at the scene and letting off fireworks. Yellow paint for Tuesdays, red paint for Saturdays (Tuesday is winning, being the best day for violent deaths). You can also try to count the ascending numbers from 1-100 that are placed in each scene. I only saw about half of them - some are well hidden.
There isn't a DVD version of the film available in the UK at the moment, but the Australian DVD (with UK FilmFour logo!) is region 0, so will play on any DVD player, and is probably the best bet for picture quality.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable, 27 Jan. 2004
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This review is from: Drowning By Numbers [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Very few films have the vision and originality of Drowning by Numbers. Apart from being beautifully filmed and containing a fantastic collection of old English childrens' games, this film is erotic, heartbreaking and funny. Trevor Cooper's outstanding performance is remarkable for its portrayal of a man building his own downfall. Juliet Stevenson is excellent as are all the acast. I defy anyone to predict what happens from scene to scene. This is film making for thinking people. I saw it first on TV by accident and had to get the video. A DVD release would be fantastic.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece or mess?, 6 Oct. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Drowning By Numbers [VHS] (VHS Tape)
You either love Peter Greenaway's films or hate them. They take much more effort than the usual Hollywood fare, and many folk can't stand films they can't grasp instantly.
Drowning by Numbers is a mixture of metaphor, allegory and narrative shot with immense style in elaborately constructed and richly-coloured sets. The biggest plot thread is the murder of their partners by three generations of women. This isn't crass US TV real-life drama. This is funny, startling and utterly absorbing cinema.
Woven into this is an array of cryptic sub-plots with some unsettling themes and a couple of horrifying denouments.
If you like your plots on a plate, you won't like this film. But if you like to sit back, absorb, and wait for the realisations to come to you slowly (maybe weeks later), this is a very satisfying and absorbing film indeed.
The cinematography, the ambience, the careful pace and direction - not to mention the soundtrack - are really rather extraordinary.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A dip in cold water, 25 May 2014
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When I saw this film 20 years ago I thought it was one of the best, cleverest films I've ever seen. It's still very clever, and achingly beautifully shot, but there's something sterile about it. I can see why my coldly intellectual 18 year old self might love it, and now that I'm a bit more roadworn and experienced it seems emotionally thin. What the Americans would call 'sophomoric.' It doesn't have the vigour of The Draughtsman's Contract, far and away my favourite Peter Greenaway film. It also seems extraordinarily easy to drown people. 1, 2, 3 and they're gone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Old favourite and hard to find, 10 Jan. 2014
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It was good to find this. The package was a bit daunting as it was all in German but irt was a high class package. The film plays in English and if I brush up my German, I will be able to read the enclosed booklet.

Great buy,
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5.0 out of 5 stars Drowning by Numbers, 20 Mar. 2013
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Ian Frearson "Reynard" (Derby England) - See all my reviews
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This film should be a must for all lovers of good cinematography. It is well cast, well made and beautifully finished.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Watery black comedy, 4 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Drowning By Numbers [VHS] (VHS Tape)
A quirky black comedy with a dreamlike quality. Set in an English coastal landscape and with the music of Michael Nyman enhancing the experience of watching the bizarre lives of its eccentric characters.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I just wish it would come out on DVD!, 5 Sept. 2003
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Michael Channon "shonkyhonky" (SE London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Drowning By Numbers [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Now, this is really worth a proper DVD release - if only they would do it. It is the best film of my life (not over yet, but it would be hard to beat it). I don't know why - perhaps it is the atmosphere of an English country side that you don't normally see (ie by the beach), or the obsurd and weird practices of the country folk (ie skipping & counting stars, numbering dead things...). Maybe it's the beautifully crafted music adapted from Mozart (whom I can't stand, but this I love). Or perhaps it's the characters, particularly Smut, who was a kid I would have loved to have as a school friend. Bizarre, weird and totally off the wall - he's my kind of friend.
I just feel right at home, which maybe you shouldn't watching a movie about murdering people, but I do feel that. It is so... so.... brilliant!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant film, but could not enjoy it, 20 Mar. 2014
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Pagliacco (West Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
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I had seen this film many years ago and wished to re-visit: The description said that this version of the the film had English audio with Polish subtitles, which could be turned off.
In fact the English audio was very muted and there was a Polish commentary superimposed.
I tried to watch the first 20 min.
I could not enjoy the film and sent it back
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Greenaway at his best ..., 3 Mar. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Drowning By Numbers [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Peter Greenaway's art cinema is often criticised - the undergraduate's favourite he is seen as pretentious and faux-sophisticated. Drowning by Numbers suffers from Greenaway's usual over-direction but is redeemed by having a strong, if strange, narrative, interesting characters, and a wonderfully painterly cinematography. Those interested in Greenaway should start with this very approachable, enigmatic and oddly affecting film.
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Drowning By Numbers [VHS]
Drowning By Numbers [VHS] by Peter Greenaway (VHS Tape - 1999)
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