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Columbia/Tri-Star // R // August 5, 2003
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by J. Doyle Wallis | posted July 28, 2003 | E-mail the Author
Nick wanders into the lives of fish mongers Joe and Betty (Edward James Almos and Maria Conchita Alonso), who take pity on the homeless, starving, young man and offer him a job at their market. At first Nick takes them up on the offer just for some quick cash and a way to get back on his feet. As he begins working with Joe, lives with them, sleeping in their sons old bed, he warms up to the couple and slowly becomes part of their lives.

Nick becomes the son Joe never had. Joe and Betty's actual son, Danny, is a Hollywood nobody, a failing comedian who sends them tapes with endless promises of big breakthroughs just around the corner that always fail to materialize. Nick and Betty also find themselves attracted to each other, Nick because of the close quarters of the living space, and Betty because Nick shows her the attention that Joe has shrugged off. Despite not wanting to hurt Joe, Nick and Betty begin to have an affair.

Things begin to take a turn for the better as Nick persuades Joe into taking up an offer on selling his market. The block is being bought up by businessmen. Nick convinces Joe to give up his cherished spot, take the money, and live out his dream as a captain of a fleet of small fishing boats in Florida. This is also the life Betty had always wanted, no longer living dawn to dusk trudging around in the tiny market. But, then Danny comes back to town with his wife and child. Danny's jealousy over Nick's closeness to his parents quickly boils over as he also grows suspicious of Nick and Betty having an affair. The smooth path to a better life begins to get rocky.

Caught (1996) takes its time with its characters and has a richness to its story that the lurid cover doesn't convey. But, it is easier to sell the promise of some steamy sex than some substance so the films promo art is understandable. You could see how if some other producers got their hands on the script, they would cast Shannon Tweed in it, throw in another soft focus love scene or two, and the end result would be another late night Cinemax skin flick. Instead, in the hands of director Robert M. Young (Dominic and Eugene, Triumph of the Spirit) it is a good little indie tale of Oedipal passion with some James M. Cain undertones. Its noirish element is further enhanced by Nick's voice overs, which deftly convey his thoughts and the passage of time.

If the film has a weak link it would be in Arie Verveen as Nick. He has this watered down Jason Patrick quality. His slipping in and out of an Irish brogue sticks out among the more natural performances in the rest of the film. While mostly okay, he appears to play some scenes like he is sleepwalking or drugged. Such an thing may be fine in a Werner Herzog film but it feels weird in Caught and comes across like some self conscious method actor affectation. Almos and Alonso are very believable and add touches of depth to their "Average Joe" characters. The real standout is Steven Schub as Danny. Schub imbues Danny with a Iaigolike hurt and devilish scheming gaze that commands the last half of the film.

The DVD: Columbia Tristar

Picture: Full-screen. Part of me wants to say the film was probably shot with a standard ratio and this is how it should look. When something has been cropped, it is usualy easy to spot. However, the compositions on Caught never feel cut off and I didn't notice any pan & scanning. I looked around and couldn't find any theatrical ratio, so I'm not sure. Anyone knows, email me.

Well, it does look indie an low budget, because it is, so there are some things like a rougher grittier weaker contrast image that one has to forgive. Color appears good, considering, and the sharpness details are also in good shape. There is some edge enhancement and a couple of scenes with some noticeable artifacts, making this a B-C grade image transfer.

Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. The film is average in its audio presentation. Pretty standard dialogue driven film.There are no real moments in either fx or music score that could be greatly enhanced by stereo trickery. At times the actual voice recording falters a bit, so some subtitles would have been nice, but it is passable in a low budget feature.

Extras: Chapter Selections--- Trailers

Conclusion: A modest indie film with a solid story, performances, and execution. The no frills DVD transfer isn't really anything to get to excited about. Columbia is still a company that puts $24.99 retail prices on barebones DVDs, which just isn't going to work with most consumers, especially when guys like MGM put out SE's for $9.99. If you are a huge fan of the film it may be worth picking up, but for most buyers the price and the quality of the transfer make this one only rental worthy.

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