Blu-ray Review: Rosemary's Baby (2014)

STUDIO: Lionsgate | DIRECTOR: Agnieszka Holland | CAST: Zoe Saldana, Jason Isaacs, Pagtrick J. Adams, Carole Bouquet, Christina Cole
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 8/19/2014 | PRICE: DVD $19.98, Blu-ray $19.99
BONUSES: two featurettes
SPECS: NR | 170 min. | Horror thriller | 1.78:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1/Dolby Digital 5.1 | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

 

NBC’s two-part Rosemary’s Baby miniseries based on Ira Levin’s bestseller is nowhere near as effective, memorable, unsettling and—most importantly–subtle as Roman Polanski’s brilliant 1968 film adaptation. That said, it’s not without its pleasures, many of them revolving around the setting, which has been moved from the original’s Manhattan location to modern-day Paris.

Rosemary's Baby movie scene

Zoe Saldana in Rosemary's Baby

The core story remains essentially the same: a young couple– Rosemary (Zoe Saldana, Colombiana), a former dancer, and struggling novelist Guy (Patrick J. Adams, TV’s Suits)–moves to Paris with the hopes of putting Rosemary putting her miscarriage behind her and Guy being struck with some inspiration. After a series of strange and violent events, the couple finds themselves living in one of the city’s most luxurious addresses as the neighboring benefactors of a wealthy middle-aged couple (Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsJason Isaacs and That Obscure Object of Desire‘s Carole Bouquet). But strangeness and violence continues to whirl about them, even as Rosemary finds herself happily pregnant again and Guy’s career begins to sour. Plagued by anxiety and illness, Rosemary becomes increasingly suspicious that her husband and French “friends” have ulterior motives for her unborn son. Did anyone say modern-day witches?

Fleshed out with a handful of secondary characters, liberal doses of gruesome violence and a handful of dream sequences and hallucinations, three three-hour-long production, again, loses some of the subtlety, growing menace and quiet chills that defined Polanski’s film, But seasoned director Agnieszka Holland (In Darkness) paces the story well and definitely knows where to place her camera, whether it’s tight on the performers in the confines of an apartment, or through a rippling pane of glass as increasingly devilish scenarios unspool. And the performances are uniformly fine, led by the devilishly debonair Isaacs and eternally beautiful Ms. Bouquet.

Bonus features on the Blu-ray include two featurettes, one offering comments and insights from the cast and director Holland, who exhibits enthusiasm (restrained enthusiasm, to be sure, but it’s there!) on describing her experiences on her first horror film. Jason Isaacs is the most engaging cast member, particularly when describing his time spent with co-star Carole Bouquet, whom he says was hailed like a queen wherever she was went in the city.

The great French production designer Anne Seibel (who’s been Woody Allen’s go-to woman for his recent French forays Midnight in Paris and Magic in the Moonlight) talks about her work in detailing the central apartment complex where most of the film’s interiors were shot. She also describes her wish to show Paris’s beauty, but not with the typical postcard shots that have been seen countless times. Some of Rosemary’s most strikingly visual sequences are set in a barge on the Seine River, in Paris’s skull-filled catacombs, and at Le Grand Véfour, the legendary 200-year-old restaurant where Napoleon famously romanced Josephine. Y’know, I’m thinking I want to shoot my next film in Paris. Yeah, definitely. Ooh la la.

 

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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.