When first realizing that “EDGES OF THE LORD” was released overseas nearly four years ago, this reviewer wasn’t too optimistic about the film’s quality. However, in spite of BUENA VISTA’s failure to ever release it theatrically over here, it’s surprisingly moving and definitely recommended.
Haley Joel Osment stars with Wilem Dafoe. The casting of waspy looking Osment as a Polish-jewish boy is the first hurtle that discerning viewers will have to overcome. But, after the first 20 minutes or so, other aspects of the film, including the location cinematography and sets, help create a strong sense of authenticity that overshadow the potential miscasting. Osment is still a remarkable actor and he succeeds in making the part his own soon enough.
Osment plays Romek, a 12 year old living in occupied Poland circa 1943. In their plight to survive, Romek’s parents send him away to the countryside, with the aid of a caring priest, to live with a Catholic family, “as” a Catholic. Dafoe is at his typical best as the priest. The director deserves credit for the way in which he tells his story without ever succumbing to finding the easiest tear-jerking moments. There are plenty of moments for tears, but they’re seldom forced. The story manages to feel compelling with the always lurking horrors of the Holocaust around the corner, without ever having to rely just on that incredible horror alone. The story tries and largely succeeds at being about many things, loss of innocence, becoming a man, morality, free-will and more. Although it has its share of flaws, sometimes relying too heavily on symbolism for its own good, it’s ultimately extremely moving and memorable.
BUENA VISTA has preserved the film’s 1.85:1 aspect ratio, with 16:9 enhancement. Colors are often vibrant, creating a rich feel to the film, rarely used in films dealing with WW2. While there’s no grain, darker scenes lack the clarity often found in BUENA VISTA dvd releases.
BUENA VISTA has presented a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundmix. While there are some rare instances of surround involvement, most of the film’s mix is front-focused. There is mild separation within the front speakers, but most sound is delegated to the center channel.