I have read some interesting commentary on The Ticket, specifically in regards to the protagonist's behavior after he regains his sight. Dan Stevens is one of the best actors working who nobody knows. He plays James, a young father whose vision returns for the first time since his youth. Within weeks, he goes from a kind, mild-mannered telemarketer to a suave, image-obsessed cheater, leaving behind his wife Sam (Malin Akerman). The film is an interesting morality play, but it unspools almost exactly as expected. Stevens toes the line expertly between sympathy and disgust for his character, and James' actions usually are earned if not justified. I do not share the vitriol toward James some viewers expressed in the aforementioned commentary, but, if nothing else, The Ticket warrants discussion.
A tumor pushing against his optic nerve caused James to lose his sight in youth. The film opens with James confirming to the audience that he is content and thankful for his current life. That changes quickly when his vision returns. He gets an expensive haircut, buys several designer suits and purchases a fancy car before gaining licensure. His wife notices James begin to distance himself, and James moves up quickly from the call center staffed with blind telemarketers to the executive suite of his company, which buys mortgages for pennies on the dollar. He catches the eye of his flirtatious coworker, Jessica (Kerry Bishé), and pushes longtime friend Bob (Oliver Platt) away, claiming Bob is jealous of his newfound freedom. You can probably guess where all this is heading, and no, things do not go well for James.
An early test of his marriage comes when James notices the formerly unseen black eye on his young son. Sam chose to keep information that their son was fighting at school from James, but the proof is obvious once James regains his vision. He storms into the principal's office and loses it when informed his son is actually the aggressor. Sam is angry that James has begun to set bad, impulsive examples for their son. They soon part ways, and it becomes obvious James is sleeping with Jessica. Bob calls James out for his drastic behavior and personality changes, infuriating him, and begins spending time with Sam. James accuses Sam of marrying him out of pity and using him as a pet project to make herself feel better. James' behavior is at once expected and somewhat forgivable, at least some of the minor changes and infidelity aside. It seems natural that James would begin caring more about his appearance and surroundings, and his natural drive is enhanced by sight.
I enjoyed Stevens in The Guest, and he recently starred in the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast. He is a strong actor, and I expect he will one day be a household name. The Ticket is ably directed by Ido Fluk, and is shot in a dream-like haze by cinematographer Zack Galler. As a morality tale, The Ticket is not especially original. Nonetheless, it entertains for 98 minutes, and benefits from strong performances across the board. I am not sure James deserves to be damned for his choices, but he certainly pays for them.
The 2.35:1/1080p/AVC-encoded transfer is decent, but suffers from a few key issues. The film is deliberately photographed with muted colors and in a yellowish haze. Still, there is plenty of texture and fine-object detail. Problematic, though, are the anemic black levels and the digital/chroma noise that pops up, particularly in darker scenes. This may be an issue with compression, as the film appears on a single-layer Blu-ray. I did not notice issues with edge enhancement or noise reduction.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is subtly effective, and presents the dialogue-heavy film without major flaw. Ambient noise and the soundtrack are layered appropriately, and I noticed no distortion or hiss. An English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is also included, as are English SDH subtitles.
PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:
Released as part of the "Shout Select" line, The Ticket is packed in a standard case that is wrapped in a slipcover. Extras include a Commentary by Writer/Director Ido Fluk and Writer Sharon Mashihi and the film's Original Theatrical Trailer (1:52/HD).
An interesting but familiar morality tale, The Ticket benefits from a strong performance from Dan Stevens. Rent It.