The Good

The Bad

There would have been a time in my life that I would have seen that a film was coming out starring Harvey Keitel and Robert DeNiro and I would have been there opening day. I would have happily strolled into the theater expecting the Mean Streets magic and when I didn’t get that, I would have left the theater disappointed.

Knowing that The Bridge of San Luis Rey was not going to be like this because A) Just look at the poster and you can tell it’s NOTHING like Mean Streets and B) I had seen the 1944 film version of this same movie. This film, at it’s heart looks at the issue of divine providence. Five people are killed on a bridge. A monk (Gabriel Byrne) decides that he is going to investigate this, and the movie begins with the Archbishop of Peru (DeNiro) denouncing his findings. Over the course of the film, we come to see that what Byrne’s character wrote does indeed have merit and we then get to look at the effect this has on the people who originally judged him.

A lot of heavy ideas are on display in The Bridge of San Luis Rey, and I am thankful that I waited until this film was on DVD to watch it. I don’t think I would have appreciated it in a movie theater. Don’t ask me why, I just don’t think that I would.

Features

No extras came with this DVD.

Video

Presented in a format preserving the 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio of it’s theatrical exhibition. Enhanced for widescreen TVs. This movie certainly has the look and feel of a period piece. Sadly, this film just meanders through the scenes, making each and every moment feel like something special. While I know that the filmmakers wanted to give the subject at hand weight, there is just too much happening here for the cameras to linger as long as they do. If a character picks something up, they don’t just reach out and pick up, it becomes a performance. And this my friends, is right when the movie loses me, because once I sense a performance, I see acting and the game is up.

Audio

Dolby Digital DTS. English: 5.1 Surround Sound. English: Stereo Surround Sound. English and Spanish Subtitles. This movie sounds how it looks. There is a lot of string music on display here, and when the actors deliver their lines, due the material at hand it sounds like a delivery. I hate being so harsh on a film, especially when there really isn’t anything wrong with it. The Bridge of San Luis Rey just isn’t my kind of film, plain and simple. They could have the most amazing score ever, the most lush panoramic views of the hills, but all that “bigness” does nothing for me.

Package

This cover really utilizes imagery well. We see the faces of the main cast of the movie in the black outline of a cross. Below them is the rickety bridge that is so important to this tale. The back features all of the actors, highlighting them in their roles, a small description of the movie, a large cast list and technical specs. I like that they don’t try and pull any punches with this cover. If you like “costume dramas” then this movie is right up your alley. If you don’t like those kinds of films, this movie lets you know that from the get go.

Final Word

Oftentimes I think we forget that people like Keitel and DeNiro, though known for darker, rougher roles are really actors and as such they want to play as many different roles as they can. Where we as fans might just want to watch them in “wiseguy movies,” I think these people want to get as far away from those personas when they act. Something tells me that there is something inherent in all actors that make them think they can do anything. Some can, some can’ t and I think that these two people, in particular, should be commended for their efforts here.

The Bridge of San Luis Rey is an interesting film that tackles many interesting ideas. Clocking in at 120 minutes, I think they could have lost between 20-30 minutes along the way and still come out with a film that says what they wanted it to say.

The Bridge of San Luis Rey was released January 1, 2004.