Harrison's Flowers
Universal // R // $32.98 // January 21, 2003
Review by David Blair | posted February 5, 2003
M O V I E
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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R E V I E W S
Graphical Version

The Movie

It's funny how so many great movies can so easily fly under the radar. Harrison's Flowers, a movie I had heard virtually nothing about, proved not only to be excellent, but extremely powerful and moving as well. Andie MacDowell stars as Sarah Lloyd, the wife and co-worker to Harrison Lloyd (David Strathairn), a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist. Harrison reluctantly takes one last assignment in Yugoslavia to cover a small "skirmish" in the area. When he comes up missing and is presumed dead by the press and his editors, only Sarah believes he is still alive. In an act of passion, she courageously embarks on a trip to the war-ridden country to find her husband and bring him back home.

At first this movie kind of sounds like a sappy love story, and to a small extent it is. However, the sappiness is kept to a minimum, and the action is startlingly realistic and horrifying. When Sarah steps off of the plane and drives into the psychotic war zone, she immediately enters into a world where there is no mercy and no rules to abide by. What starts as a heroic rescue mission, quickly becomes a horrific quest for survival.

What really surprised me were the performances by Andie MacDowell and Adrein Brody. MacDowell, whom I generally do not like as an actress, puts on a convincing and heartfelt performance worthy of any big budget theatrical release. And Brody, who plays a photojournalist working in Yugoslavia at the time, puts on a stellar job. Where Harrison represents the top-of-the-heap of award-winning photojournalists, Brody represents the other end of the spectrum; the under appreciated, underpaid, and overworked photojournalist. And he pulls it off wonderfully.

The camera work, direction, and pacing of this movie is just about dead-on perfect. But the overwhelming highlight of this movie is the frighteningly realistic battle scenes that makeup the majority of this film. Based on real-life events that occurred in Yugoslavia during the early 90's, the battle scenes are loud, lively, and disturbing. Shameless images of cold-blooded murder, or "ethnic cleansing" as it was later titled, appear often. The expressions and lack of compassion on the militant's faces come across as chillingly accurate. This was a time all too reminiscent of the Holocaust, yet on a much smaller scale.

All in all, Harrison's Flowers is a well-done movie that invokes emotion and empathy for the main characters, and the innocent victims of this senseless civil war in Yugoslavia. It is well directed and well acted, and despite the complete absence of any extras, represents a fine DVD to own.


The DVD

Video: Harrison's Flowers is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen. This is an excellent video transfer. The picture is razor sharp, and virtually free of any compression artifacts or digital noise. Colors are bright, and blacks appear to be close to true black. The picture has a slight "gloomy" feel to it, but that is how the film is supposed to look. Overall a great transfer.

Audio: Harrison's Flowers offers you the choice of both a Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS audio soundtrack. Both offer amazing sound, to the point where you probably won't notice one being better than the other. The rear surrounds get a lot of use, especially in the abundant battle scenes. More than once the viewer feels like they are right in the middle of a chaotic civil war, with no perceivable chance of escape. There's lots of bass and explosions to be had here. This is definitely an amazing sounding DVD.

Extras: There are no real extras on this DVD.


Final Thoughts

Harrison's Flowers is a film that kind of slipped through the cracks. Almost no one has heard of it, and that's a shame because it really is a great movie. Many people will be mislead into thinking it's a sappy love story, when in fact it's a serious, sentimental action drama. The storyline is compelling, the acting is great, and the action is horrifyingly realistic. This is a powerful movie that makes a strong emotional impact. Highly Recommended



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