Swept Away
Columbia/Tri-Star // R // $27.98 // February 11, 2003
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted February 5, 2003
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The Movie:

As I've noted before, I've liked director Guy Ritchie's films ("Snatch" and "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" ). They're sharp, darkly funny, visually inventive, energetic and entertaining. As I've noted before, while I don't think Madonna's going to win an Oscar anytime soon, she's certainly a decent actress. A film with the two (who, as most know, are married), should not be this bad.

A film that quickly became good material for the opening monologue on many a late-night talk show, "Swept Away" really was just that - the film's release was essentially stopped, as the film opened on 196 screens and closed two weeks later. The film, a remake of a 1974 film which I have not seen and I can imagine can only be better (which would not be a tough task) than this remake, stars Madonna as Amber, a terribly spoiled wife of a millionare who insults (she calls him "Peepee", "Nature Boy" and worse) Giuseppe (Adriano Giannini), the deckhand of her private yacht. She has joined her husband and another couple on said ship for a bit of fun, but things turn problematic for Amber when she Giuseppe run out of fuel when they run out of gas on a side trip off the boat.

Stranded only with Giuseppe on an island, the tables turn and she finds herself having to have to depend on him for food, a situation which he turns to his advantage, making Amber serve him instead of the other way around. Taking the story into further levels of absurdity, the story eventually turns into a romance. To have a character fall for another that ranks with some of the most bitchy, mean-spirited and possibly evil ever on-screen suddenly is terribly insulting to the audience. There's no way that a great actress could portray this turn-around believably, and given that Madonna has only occasionally proved her acting talents, she certainly doesn't easily make this transition from hating and being cruel to this person to loving him. Adriano Giannini's performance isn't much better, and it's equally tough to understand how this character would fall for her.

Most of the second half of the picture plays like some hellish version of "Cast Away", as the two argue constantly with one another. There's simply nothing the least bit involving or entertaining about this. Who cares? Although the opening scenes on the boat occasionally show off Ritchie's eye for interesting visuals, even his visual style seems more ordinary here as the camera simply sits and stares at the two leads bickering.

Simply, this is just a dreadful picture. It limps forward without a point, insults the audience, offers bland performances, is bitter and tough to sit through. Ritchie is capable of much better.


VIDEO: "Swept Away" is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen by Columbia/Tristar Home Video. Complaints and concerns about the story and performances aside, "Swept" is certainly an slick, attractive-looking picture that translates nicely to DVD. The picture looks very crisp and clean, with fine detail consistently visible.

Flaws were certainly few-and-far-between, with only the slightest edge enahncement taking away from what was otherwise a pretty stunning presentation. The print used appeared nearly perfect, with only a speck or two visible and very little in the way of grain. No compression artfiacts or other concerns were spotted, either.

The film's warm, bright color palette was certainly accurately presented, with bold, nicely saturated colors that never appeared smeared or problematic. This is an awfully nice transfer from the studio.

SOUND: "Swept Away" is presented by Columbia/Tristar in Dolby Digital 5.1. The audio presentation is nothing too outstanding, but the surrounds are employed for an enjoyable - if somewhat inconsistent - amount of ambience. The film's occasional music also shines when it does hit the soundtrack, as tunes are reinforced nicely by the rear channels. This is not a particularly dynamic or impressive track, but it does what it has to.


Commentary: This is a commentary from director Guy Ritchie and producer Matthew Vaughn. The commentary does contain the same sort of humor that the two offered for their commentary on "Snatch". They joke about the movie, jokingly insult each other and don't seem to take anything seriously, which results in a track that's often far, far more entertaining than the movie itself. The commentary covers a lot of topics, from working with the actors to proceeding with filming even though rights to the remake were still being worked out.

Other than the commentary, there's a jokey MTV featurette where Ritchie and Madonna interview each other, with a lot of behind-the-scenes clips thrown in. Deleted scenes with optional commentary from Ritchie and Vaughn are provided, while bios and trailers (Maid in Manhattan, Snatch, Swept Away, Punch-Drunk Love) round out the package.

Final Thoughts: A dull film that doesn't offer fine performances or an enjoyable story, I don't recommend the film. The DVD does provide very good audio/video and fine supplements, so those who saw the film and liked it may want to check out the DVD.

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