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Customer Review

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Circle is Not Round, 7 Aug. 2009
This review is from: Before The Rain [DVD] (DVD)
Before the Rain is an ambitious, moving and ultimately satisfying film from director Milcho Manchevski that demands repeated viewings. The film is structured in three sections, the first and third set in Macedonia, the middle in London, although the structure is circular rather than linear, and the chronology (deliberately) does not make sense. In the first section, "Words", a Macedonian Christian monk (Gregoire Colin) offers sanctuary to a Moslem Albanian girl being sought for a crime she may, or may not, have committed. The section title itself has implications; the Monk, for example, has taken a vow of silence! In the second section, "Faces", a London picture editor Anne ((Katrin Cartlidge) must decide between her husband and a war weary photo journalist Alex (Rade Šerbezija). In the final section, "Pictures", the photo journalist returns to his village in Christian Macedonia after 16 years away and attempts to cope with the hatred and violence between his village and the village of neighbouring Moslem Albanians. While separate, each of these three sections builds on what goes before, gradually supplying more information, until the deadly climax reveals everything. Almost.
If anything the parts are uneven. "Words" is beautifully shot, sparse and compelling; "Pictures" longer and slower as the Alex tries to re-experience a childhood environment now blighted by bigotry and violence between former friends. No-one here is innocent, no-one blameless; only Alex with his "foreign" perspective seems capable of some degree of impartiality. "Faces" is more frenetic in pace, and does feel unbalanced in comparison to the Macedonian sections. At its core, however, this is sad film, bitter over the violence that humans inflict on each other, where bigotry is a stronger emotion than love or family, and all who desire something better find themselves at great risk.
The stunning visuals in the Macedonian sections and the music by Anastasia fully support the mood of the film, and enhance the viewing experience.

Unfortunately, this DVD does not really do the film justice. On start up, there is no chapter index, just play, and the presentation itself is patchy. There are frequent grain and dirt marks which, although present, are not too distracting while the picture lacks sharpness and detail. Sound is advertised as stereo, but came through the centre speaker. Having said that, this is a film of many silences where the score carries the story beautifully. Dialogue is clear, and the subtitles in the Macedonian sections are clear white text and don't contain obvious grammatical or spelling errors.

There are no extras. The Region 1 Criterion edition is reported to have an excellent transfer, a commentary by Manchevski and film scholar Annette Insdorf, a sixteen-minute interview with Rade Šerbedzija, a 15-minute featurette, five minutes of on-the-set footage, fifteen minutes of soundtrack selections, Manchevski's 1992 hip-hop music video "Tennessee", some photographs, a stills gallery, and trailers.
Before the Rain is an intelligent and moving film, here with an indifferent DVD presentation. If your system will allow it, the Criterion Region 1 edition seems the better choice.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 Nov 2010 11:08:51 GMT
H. Dumpty says:
Extremely helpful review. Thank you very much.

Posted on 13 Mar 2015 17:32:45 GMT
Last edited by the author on 13 Mar 2015 17:34:32 GMT
gile says:
very misleading ...not all.... if you loved the film why only 2 stars?
This is supposed to be about the content of the film ..not a rant about your dvd having no chapter index etc...get over it!
so annoying!
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Location: Armidale, NSW Australia

Top Reviewer Ranking: 7,241,181