Catherine Zeta Jones and Saoirse Ronan star as a mother and daughter act utilizing their skills to con and survive the streets of Scotland in the 1920s. The mother thinks she's found her golden egg when the great Magician Harry Houdini( well played by Guy Pearce) comes to town, as his offer to reward anyone that can tell him the last words his dying mother said to him, ten thousand dollars. The bulk of the film is built around their hopes to endear themselves to the magician and somehow discern the words for the reward. There are some beautiful moments in the film, and for the most part, the love-story element of the film works. However, one has to suspend so much disbelief to ignore the facts of Houdini's life and accept an improbable story(HOUDINI was well known for his faithfullness) that it's just hard to swallow what unfolds.
Jones is beautiful, as always, and the supporting cast is great. The production design is also impressive, making "DEATH DEFYING ACTS" feel like a big-budget film, so it's even more bewildering to find it was never marketed for theatrical release!
While not a great film, it's far better than the average melodrama, and the cast makes it worth watching, if not owning.
GENIUS has provided the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio for this 16:9 enhanced dvd. Colors are generally solid, and even rich in select scenes. However, the image has a softness to it, that diminishes the overall depth. Grain pops up sporadically as well, although it's not to the point of being intrusive. The image is decent, although it would've been nice to see this one released as a blu-ray, given the elaborate production design and colorful settings.
A dolby digital 5.1 mix is included. While not aggressive, discrete and surround effects add an immersive quality during key moments in the film. The lush score is complimented through all speakers.
The film's trailer, a great commentary and featurette are included.