While certainly not a great film, "On The Edge" isn't quite as bad as its generic (so much so that there's another movie coming to video with the same title on the same day) title would indicate. The film stars Cillian Murphy as Jonathan, a troubled 19-year-old Irish teenager who is depressed by his father's death. He decides to take a spin in a stolen convertable and, at 50 mph, drives clear off a cliff, surviving and only breaking his pinky. Faced with a prison sentence, Jonathan decides to take a stay in a mental institution instead.
The film then takes an unexpected spin into "Girl, Interrupted" (I suppose this could be the sequel, "Boy, Interrupted") territory, as Jonathan starts to befriend those around him, including Rachel (Tricia Vessey) and Toby (Jonathan Jackson). The hospital's doctor (Stephen Rea) oversees the progress of all involved. As with most troubled teens, Jonathan covers up his own problems with a layer of dark humor.
As the film proceeds, the characters start breaking down their layers and exploring the source of their issues, although the movie doesn't spend that much time on this aspect. Instead, there are a few unnecessary sequences that show the lead characters getting into fights. The film does have some darkly funny lines at times and the performances are perfectly fine, but the film's short running time never really offers much chance to explore any issues. As such, it's rather difficult to retain interest, especially in the slower second half. The film's soundtrack is also hit-and-miss; while the Smashing Pumpkins tune in the opening sequence works 100% perfectly, there are other popular tunes that don't really fit with their scene. Overall, "On The Edge" has performances that certainly try (Vessy and Murphy are definitely talents to watch), but the film never quite held my interest.
VIDEO: Universal presents "On The Edge" in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture quality is generally very good, with no major complaints. Sharpness and detail are solid throughout, with no instances of softness, but one scene in particular early on that seemed unusually dark.
The picture remained pretty free of flaws for most of the film. The print appeared clean and crisp with only a couple of exceptions, as a scene or two showed some minor specks. A few minor instances of edge enhancement, as well as a trace or two of pixelation showed through, but were hardly noticable. The film's subdued color palette was quite well-presented, looking crisp and flawless. Overall, a pretty nice transfer.
SOUND: Universal presents "On The Edge" in both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 audio. The film is a completely dialogue-driven piece aside from the film's score. The score is the one element that really is quite enveloping, as the the tunes sound dynamic coming from the front speakers and are reinforced by the surrounds. Dialogue and the few instances of ambient sounds remained crisp and clear. The dialogue is definitely worth noting, though: those who have a problem with accents will most certainly have a rough time with the Irish accents on display here. The DTS soundtrack seemed to present the music with a bit more warmth, but other than that, the two soundtracks seemed largely the same.
MENUS: The static menus are simple, with film-themed images as backgrounds.
EXTRAS: Trailer, production notes and bios.
Final Thoughts: I liked the performances in "On The Edge" and it has moments, but there's little character development and the movie moves along at a slower pace as it goes forward. Universal's DVD provides very good audio/video quality, but only minimal supplements.
The Film ** 1/2