TMP Reviews: Patty Hearst on DVD!

The DVD is offered as part of MGM’s “Limited Edition Collection” on DVD, which are available from select online retailers and are manufactured only when the DVD is ordered. The DVD features a simple menu with no menu for chapters or scenes. Manufacture-On-Demand (MOD) DVDs are made to play in DVD playback units only and may not play in DVD recorders or PC drives. This DVD did not play in our laptop DVD drive but did play in our Toshiba DVD recorder.

DVD SPECS

ASPECT RATIO: 1.85:1 enhanced for widescreen TVs
RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes
RATING: R
AUDIO: Dolby Digital 2.0
SUBTITLES: None  
SPECIAL FEATURES: Trailer

THE SET-UP

A newspaper heiress is kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army, a group of domestic terrorists, and brainwashed into joining their cause.
Screenplay by: Nicholas Kazan
Produced by: Marvin Worth
Directed by: Paul Schrader

THE DELIVERY
This visually striking film provides a riveting look at the kidnapping, brainwashing, and eventual arrest of Patty Hearst. While most are familiar with the story, few know the details, and the film (based on Hearst’s book about her ordeal) takes pains to outline how methodically she was broken down and brainwashed.

Having never seen the film, I was pleasantly surprised when I sat down with the DVD. The film did not seem to get much buzz when it was released in 1988, but it surely will find an audience on DVD. The performances throughout are strong, and keep the film interesting. The late Natasha Richardson is very good as Patty, although I wish the script had given more insight as to what finally caused her to turn. Ms. Richardson was a truly gifted actress whose untimely death deprived us of so many great performances. Ving Rhames, Frances Fisher, and William Forsythe all give great performances as members of the Symbionese Liberation Army.

Director Paul Schrader (better known for writing Raging Bull and Taxi Driver) has a strong sense of style, and his visuals give the film a distinct look. Having never read the book, I cannot comment on how true to life the movie is, but Schrader certainly presents it with an in-your-face attitude. You will certainly view Patty Hearst differently after viewing this film.

Patty Hearst

VIDEO AND AUDIO
The video presentation is very good, but lacks some sharpness. The colors used – which range from stark black and white to deep reds, are very vivid. However, the film seems a little too dark at times, with details lost in the shadows. There is some visible debris on the print. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0, and while most voices are easy to hear, some seem muted and at times, hard to understand. Having really good speakers will help with most of the dialogue.

SPECIAL FEATURES

A theatrical trailer is included.

BUY IT OR NETFLIX IT?

RATINGS  
MOVIE: B+
VIDEO: B-
AUDIO: B-
EXTRAS: C-
OVERALL GRADE: B-

Patty Hearst

This is an interesting film, made more so over the fact that it is a true story. Schrader has a distinctive directing style, which can be seen in his other works (including Auto-Focus and Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist), and he doesn’t seem to mind taking on difficult subjects. Given how unavailable this film has been to American viewers, it is a definite rent, and if you can get it at a great price, some fans may want to add it to their collection. The lack of special features makes it hard to recommend this for purchase at the full retail price.

Patty Hearst is now available from online retailers through MGM/Fox Home Entertainment.

Click here to order Patty Hearst from Amazon.