The Film (5/5)
Lisa Macklin (Sophia Loren) is an unhappily married Italian woman living in Paris. Her husband, Robert (Anthony Perkins), is an emotional unstable business man who keeps pushing her to the edge. While taking him to the airport, Lisa confesses that she wants to leave him. As she leaves to make a phone call, Robert sneaks off to fill out some plane flight insurance papers. The following day, Lisa discovers in the newspaper that Robert’s plane crashed and there were zero survivors. As she receives the insurance notice, she is shocked to see Robert at her door.
To avoid having Lisa call the cops, Robert makes her a deal. If she collects the money and gives it to him, he’ll start a new life somewhere and leave her forever. But things don’t go to plan as the tension rises with nosey neighbor kids and a reporter named David (Gig Young) who won’t leave Lisa alone.
FIVE MILES TO MIDNIGHT is a movie I was completely unaware of until I saw the announcement for this Kino release. And nothing prepared me for this surprise of a movie. Filmed completely in Paris, France, the movie has all the style of a Jean Pierre Melville movie with Hitchcockian suspense. Toward the end of the movie, it even starts to feel like a giallo. What’s so incredible about the movie, is the attention to detail in every scene. Every character has something visually important going on and it’s hard to tell what motive they might have. A drunk going for a bottle, a lit cigarette hidden in an ash tray, and even a set of keys left on a roof have a sinister meaning.
The cinematography by Henri Alekan is poetic and lively. Every scene has interesting camerawork going on. The glide of a crane looking on to the apartment building where Robert is hiding, or the zipping around as he tries to hide from a visiting policeman. FIVE MILES TO MIDNIGHT also uses its film noir style lighting to its advantage. The shadows and beams of sudden light all add to the tension. One standout scene involves a dark lit road with only the head lights of a car on. The camera lingers on Loren as suddenly the car’s headlights appear.
The cast at first seems unusual, but everyone quickly sank into their roles. Sophia Loren (TWO WOMEN, MARRIAGE ITALIAN STYLE) is desperate as Lisa, and in any scene you can tell she’s ready to crack. Anthony Perkins (PSYCHO, SOMEONE BEHIND THE DOOR) is magnificent as the slimy husband. He is charming, but every scene you can see an evil twinkle in his eye. Perkins also seems to be having a ball with his quirky mannerisms. One neat bit of business has him casually crawling on the floor to avoid the windows. Gig Young (BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA, THE SHUTTERED ROOM) is quite sinister is some scenes, as you never can quite read his expressions. The character of David, could be called a “hero” but that’s only when he is charming. And in a strange highlight of a non-annoying kid character, is Tommy Norden (tv’s FLIPPER) as Johnny the kid next door. FIVE MILES TO MIDNIGHT is a clever little thriller with an excellent cast.
The movie comes with an English DTS-HD Master Audio track. The sound mix is marvelous with the right mix of sound effects and soundtrack without drowning out the action. The track is spotless with no noticeable problems. Every crisp detail can be heard at the right level to keep the suspense up. There’s no subtitles included.
FIVE MILES TO MIDNIGHT has a 1080p HD transfer, and boy is it a beauty. Henri Alekan’s exceptional cinematography is perfectly showcased here. The black levels are sharp and there’s a thin layer of natural film grain. There’s no blurry images or print damage. Everything is clear. .
Starting off the extras we get an alternate French scene (7 minutes and 49 seconds). Next up is a trailer gallery with trailers for FIVE MILES TO MIDNIGHT, BOCCACIO 70, THE SUNFLOWER, MARRIAGE ITAILAN STYLE, and YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW. Lastly the disc comes with a reversible cover.
FIVE MILES TO MIDNIGHT was the perfect fit for me. An excellent thriller with plenty of twists and turns. Both Loren and Perkins deliver some of their best performances, as well as Gig Young. The amazing cinematography and French setting give the film the perfect look, with some foreshadowing to the giallo boom. Kino’s Blu-ray is one of my favorite releases of the year. Highly Recommended.