R Dir: Wesley Strick | Kino Video | 1h 39min
Plot: What’s it about?
The 90’s gave us much more variety when it came to films. While remakes and superhero films dominate the market, there was a time when we’d get much more films geared toward adults. I’ve watched 3 films recently from the 90’s, all for review purposes, but it only serves as a reminder that the market is much more limited now. I’m not saying everything from this decade was gold, but films seemed to at least challenge us more and relied on big name stars to help sell them. These days a lot more stuff premiers on Netflix or other streaming services, if it doesn’t go straight to DVD. The Tie That Binds certainly has an interesting hook, but the end product leaves a lot to be desired. Revisiting this film after so many years, it’s certainly more sluggish than I had remembered, but the performances are good and it’s certainly worth a rental.
One night as they’re robbing a house, John (Keith Carradine) and his wife Leann (Daryl Hannah) exit the house to find that the police are outside waiting for them. They manage to get away, but their young daughter Janie (Julia Devin) gets left behind. She causes a scene in the police station where it takes several officers to restrain her. Before long, Janie is put up for adoption. Enter Russel Clifton (Vincent Spano) and his wife Dana (Moira Kelly). They do adopt her, but it doesn’t take long for them to notice Janie exhibits unusual and disturbing behavior. Meanwhile Russel and Dana are trying to find their daughter. There’s a scene where Dana picks up an officer at the bar, only to go back to his home and torture him for the name of the adoption agency. It’s an overly violent scene, but it shows just how crazy these two people are. The rest of the film plays out with John and Leann trying to find out more about Janie and her history with the parallel story involving the Cliftons. The film builds toward an inevitable confrontation between these characters in the half-built house that Russel has been working on. It becomes a bit frustrating and predictable, with a few close encounters. The cast all seem to fully understand the characters they’re playing, which certainly helps. I just wish the film had a bit more energy as it can feel a bit too sluggish at times.
The film is certainly a product of the 90’s as one scene Russel has someone show him how to use the computer as he’s reading a report. It’s interesting too, because these days it’s so easy to find someone’s history and whereabouts, but the technology just wasn’t there like it is today. This is certainly a well made film as on a technical level it’s very well staged and acted. Director Wesley Stick admits that the headlines of many child abduction cases is one thing that interested about the script. This marks his directorial debut. It gives us enough character development and can go from terrifying to almost comedic in nearly a flawless transition. It’s just that at the end of the day it feels very routine and shallow.
Video: How’s it look?
I hadn’t seen this film in a number of years. The last time might’ve even been on VHS, so needless to say this transfer was a drastic change from how I remembered it. Visuals are strong throughout with everything being nicely detailed. Interior shots around the house are visually pleasing as well as outdoor scenes. There’s a nice mix of each. All things considered, this transfer serves the film well. The image is AVC encoded with a 1.85:1 ratio.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The DTS HD track is also solid, providing a pleasing range of little details that add up. Background channels get their work in, vocals are crisp as well. Things get kicked up a notch during the climax and that’s when the track really kicks into high gear. All things considered, the track presents the film nicely.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Audio Commentary – Film Historian Jim Hemphill and Director Wesley Stick provide a commentary that’s insightful, but there is a bit of praising going on. Stick speaks with something of a lisp as well and that became a bit distracting after a while. I don’t mean to sound insensitive, but I noticed it. Still, for fans of the film the track is worth listening to.
- Production Story Featurette – Is more like an extended trailer with a few behind the scenes bits.
- Cast & Crew Soundbites – Fairing a little bit better are these set of interviews with our main participants.
- Selected B-Rolls – This is a fairly useless feature that acts as something of a fly on the set. It’s just a few minutes in length.
- Theatrical Trailers
The Bottom Line
It had been some time since I last saw The Tie That Binds, but I don’t recall it being so boring many moons ago. It’s by no means a terrible film, but just a pretty pedestrian one. The cast does help elevate things, but a rental is the most I can endorse. I can’t imagine the most diehard fans even wanting to own this as the replay value isn’t strong. For those considering a purchase, the disc is at least presented in a strong fashion.