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(aka 'Letters to Father Jacob')

 

Directed by Klaus Härö
Finland - 2009

 

Letters to Father Jacob is a warm-hearted and touching story of Leila, a life sentence prisoner who has just been pardoned. When she is released from prison, she is offered a job at a secluded parsonage; she moves there against her will. Leila is used to taking care only of herself, so trouble is to be expected when she starts working as the personal assistant for Jacob, the blind priest living in the parsonage.

Every day the mail man brings letters from people asking for help from Father Jacob. Answering the letters is Jacob’s life mission, while Leila thinks it’s useless.

Leila has already decided to leave the parsonage when the letters suddenly stop coming. Jacob’s life is shaken to its foundation. Two completely different lives are intertwined unexpectedly, and the roles of the helper and the one being helped are turned upside down.

***

Leila has just been pardoned after serving 12 years of a life sentence. Upon her release from prison she is offered... a job at a secluded parsonage as the personal assistant to the blind pastor Father Jacob, who's life's mission is to answer the letters of those who write asking for his help. Although she regards Father Jacob's correspondence as pointless, it ultimately plays a role in Leila's own redemption and self-forgiveness.

Poster

Theatrical Release: January 29th, 2009 - Gothenburg Film Festival

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DVD Review: Olive Films - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution Olive Films - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:12:21 
Video 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.75 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s   

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Audio Finnish (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles English (burned-in)
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Olive Films

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1

Edition Details:

• none 

DVD Release Date: March 8th, 2011

Keep Case
Chapters: 8

 

Comments:

Olive Films is handling another lauded, modern foreign-language film (as they did with Nicolo Donato's Brotherhood, Veiko Õunpuu's Estonian film The Temptation of St. Tony, Claudia Llosa's The Milk of Sorrow, and Fredrik Edfeldt's excellent The Girl.) The story of a troubled soul - a delicate film with gentleness, vulnerability with heavy overtones of faith - but not in an 'organized religion' sense. I was reminded of the cinema of Ingmar Bergman at times. The images and cinematography are excellent and help establish and expand the interesting storyline. This is a great film.  

Like all widescreen Olive Film DVDs to date this is dual-layered, anamorphic, progressive and bare-bones. It looks excellent in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The image quality is about as good as I can remember seeing for this format. Detail and contrast are excellent. There is, predictably, no damage. I was very impressed with the transfer and it does a great job supporting the film's poignant visuals.  

The unremarkable audio is mostly dialogue with plenty of important pauses. It's flat but supports the film well enough. Unfortunately, the English subtitles are burned-in and I viewed this as a negative that hope this changes with Olive Films future foreign-language releases. As stated there are no extras - not even a trailer. Supplements here would be greatly appreciated - a commentary of some discussion on this film would seem justified.

I can give a healthy endorsement to see this film - although it would have been great to have a Criterion release this with all the trimmings - I have no complaints about the Olive Film's transfer aside from the burned-in subtitles. We still suggest watching this when you have the opportunity and this DVD is more than adequate for a viewing presentation. 

Gary W. Tooze

 



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DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Olive Films - Region 1 - NTSC



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