Although some viewed it as a dissapointment, I found director Jeremiah Chechik’s update of “Diabolique” to be a tense, suspenseful and very entertaining effort. It doesn’t stand up to the original, but viewed on its own, the film has some thrilling moments and good performances from the three leads.
The film stars the trio of Sharon Stone, Isabelle Adjani and Chazz Palmenteri. Adjani is Mia, the wife of Guy(Palmenteri) and the owner of a small boarding school. Guy is an abusive husband and a cheater; he’s fooling around with one of the teachers named Nicole(Stone). The two both have a relationship with him, but both hate him – and eventually, they plot to do away with him. While everything is originally going to plan, the body soon dissapears.
I’ve never been a fan of Stone, although I’m willing to probably say that she hasn’t found right roles for her recently. Here, she’s nearly perfect as the cold, incredibly nasty Nicole. Every remark is dropped with a dry snap that makes for an engaging character; Adjani, on the other hand, plays meek very well, but doesn’t make for an interesting performance as Stone’s overpowers hers.
Still, the film maintains a solid pace and picks up the tension along the way. The only awkwardly added character is a detective played by Kathy Bates, who overacts like she’s walked in from a different picture. Either way, I like the film quite a lot and think that, even if it doesn’t compare to the original film, it makes for an entertaining effort on its own.
VIDEO: “Diabolique” is offered in an anamorphic transfer, letterboxed in the film’s original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Peter James (“Double Jeopardy”)’s cinematography occasionally seems to be intentionally a little soft at times, but this isn’t distracting. Sharpness is generally good, although again, some sequences do look a tad soft. Detail is generally good, even in some of the dark or dimly lit sequences, of which this movie has quite a few. Colors are intentionally subdued, although a bright color does pop out now and again. Colors look accurate and fare well, with no noticable problems. Fleshtones are natural, as well.
There are some problems that take away from the image quality. Slight traces of pixelation appear on occasion, and there are a couple of times where some marks and scratches appear on the print used. These are isolated instances though, and aren’t consistent throughout the movie. I’ve always liked the subdued, dark look of this picture, and Warner’s transfer presents it very well. There are a few times where it exhibits some problems, but the image quality in general looks very good.
SOUND: This is a suprisingly engaging Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that really serves to highlight the tense, dramatic Randy Edelman score very well. Much of the film is, of course, dialogue between the characters, but during some scenes, background sounds such as rain fill the listening space. Surrounds are not agressive, but do deliver subtle touches that draw the listener into the movie. As previously mentioned, the Randy Edelman score is quite excellent, and it really envelops quite nicely on this presentation, sounding well-recorded and natural. Dialogue is good as well, sounding especially natural and clean. This isn’t an intense film in terms of audio, but I think it delivers a fine presentation.
MENUS:: A clip leads to an opening menu that offers the cover art with slight animation in the background. Sub-menus also offer clips in the background, and the scene selection offers clips of the chapters to view.
Trailers: Trailers for Diabolique, Ace Ventura 1/2, Chill Factor, Exorcist 3, The King and I, Pacific Heights, Robin Hood:Prince Of Thieves, Trial By Jury, True Romance, Two if by Sea, Wild America, Wrongfully Accused, Young Guns 2 and Incognito. Wow.
Featurette: A short promotional featurette that features interviews with the cast and crew, who offer their take on the movie. It runs about 5 minutes in length.
Also: Cast and crew bios, web-links.
Final Thoughts: “Diabolique” is a very entertaining thriller; although Warner’s DVD edition doesn’t offer too many extra features, the audio/video quality is pleasing.
The Film B-
Video 86/B = (344/400 possible points)
Audio: 88/B = (352/400 possible points)
Extras: 75/C = (225/300 possible points)
Menus: 85/B = (170/200 possible points)
Value: 81/B = (243/300 possible points)
FILM GRADE: B-
DVD GRADE: B