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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Lilting [Blu-ray]


(Hong Khaou, 2014)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Dominic Buchanan Productions

Video: Artificial Eye



Region: 'B' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:26:00.041

Disc Size: 28,966,041,641 bytes

Feature Size: 23,790,157,824 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.92 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 29th, 2014



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1576 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1576 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit



English for Chinese (burned-in) and optional English (SDH) for the rest of the film (see below)



Audio commentary with Writer/Director Hong Khaou and editor Mark Towns
Interviews With cast (17:16)
Deleted Scene (2:20)

Featurette (2:20)
Original Theatrical Trailer (1:42)





Description: The world of a Chinese mother mourning the untimely death of her son is suddenly disrupted by the presence of a stranger who doesn't speak her language. Lilting is a touching and intimate film about finding the things that bring us together.


Set in contemporary London, Lilting tells the story of a Cambodian-Chinese mother mourning the untimely death of her son. Her world is suddenly disrupted by the presence of a stranger. We observe their difficulties in trying to connect with one another without a common language. Through a translator they piece together memories of a man they both loved dearly, and realize that whilst they may not share a language, they are connected in their grief. A delicate and heartfelt drama about memory, love, language and loss, featuring a powerfully compelling central performance from Ben Whishaw.



The Film:

At the heart of the story is the triangular relationship between Cambodian-Chinese widow Junn (Cheng), her Westernised son Kai (Leung), and Kai’s lover Richard (Whishaw). The opening minutes introduce us to Kai and Junn via a tender mother-son moment, as Junn, ensconced in a care home, chides her son for forgetting a music CD she asked for and begs to be allowed to move in with him in his East London apartment.

Tension is noticeable, as she complains that Kai’s ‘friend’, whom we later learn is Richard, is still a presence in Kai’s life and seemingly the reason why she cannot move in with her son. Only after a few minutes have passed do we learn, via a simple camera movement back down to a bed from Junn’s face, that Kai is, in fact, not present. This warm mother-son conversation was merely a melancholy flashback. Kai is dead. This is one of several simple in-camera contrivances that Khao uses to convey how time and memory are being distorted by the grief that permeates the characters' lives. 

Excerpt from Eye For Film located HERE

Lilting has a sturdy and emotionally resonant premise for a modern romantic melodrama. Junn (Pei-pei Cheng) is an older Cambodian-Chinese woman living in a retirement community in London who's given to reliving talks with her recently deceased son, Kai (Andrew Leung). In these conversations, mother and son argue, gently but pointedly, over Richard (Ben Whishaw), Kai's live-in "friend," who the mother feels has displaced her. Initially, Junn strikes you as a remarkably hip and tolerant parent, despite her understandable neediness, until it's revealed that Kai and Richard's obviously romantic relationship isn't apparent to her. (It's tough to tell whether Kai's fooling his mother or himself, or if Junn's fooling her son or herself, though it's probably all of the above.) Kai arranged for Junn to stay in a home, rather than allowing her to live with him and Richard, out of fear of outing himself, which ironically placed her in a position that resembled his own: They were both rendered adrift and alien in the presence of their loved ones. Junn appears to have resigned herself to living her remaining life in this tortured, irresolute past, until Richard comes knocking, determined to shake her out of her rut as an act of belated, transferred atonement.

Excerpt from Slant Magazine located HERE


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Lilting gets a transfer to Blu-ray from Artificial Eye.  It sneaks into dual-layered territory and has a strong bitrate for the 1.5 hour feature. It can tend to look muted at times - which I would guess is more a function of the lighting than anything else.  I don't know how the film as shot but there is a bit of softness - that is consistent throughout. My guess is that Lilting was not meant to look 'glossy' or the colors vibrant. There is no noise in the darker sequences contrast is likewise on the weaker end of the spectrum. The 2.35:1 frame shows some depth and close-ups look to show a pleasing level of sharpness. This Blu-ray is, precdic6ably, clean and produces a very watchable image.















Audio :

The AE Blu-ray of Lilting offers a DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 1576 kbps. It has hints of separation but everything is of a subtle nature, mostly dialogue, with only a couple of instances of rear speaker involvement. There is also a linear PCM stereo track and the Stuart Earl score sounds impressive in lossless. Predictably, there are no flaws. There are forced English subtitles for the Chinese dialogue (except Vann's translations to Chinese or Junn's Chinese to her) and optional for the entire film and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.


Extras :

Artificial Eye provide an audio commentary with Writer/Director Hong Khaou and editor Mark Towns. It reveals details about the production aspects and subtle changes in the process. There are also almost 20-minutes of cast interviews, a short deleted scene, a similarly short featurette and the original theatrical trailer. Kudos for the commentary.



Yes - Lilting is a good film. Hong Khaou's deliberately-paced feature debut may not connect with all audiences. It seems devoid of a driving force for its pathos, grieving and loss which are all present in abundance.  The Artificial Eye Blu-ray provides a consistent 1080P presentation and an enlightening commentary. Those prepared for this gentle cinema will likely embrace its fine detail and subtleties of language. 

Gary Tooze

September 24th, 2014


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Gary W. Tooze






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