A low energy stab at capturing the feel of romantic espionage that Alfred Hitchcock brought to Notorious, Eric Rochant’s Möbius is a muddled, meandering mess. Featuring most attractive actors and some fetching location work in Monaco and elsewhere, the movie just never shifts into overdrive in its duplicitous plotting or to cultivate the real ache of its lovers who are playing a dangerous, high stakes game of double agenting.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Run Time: 1 Hr. 48 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, UltraVioletkeep case
Disc Type: BD25 (single layer)
Release Date: 04/15/2014
Russian oligarch Ivan Rostovsky (Tim Roth) has many sets of eyes on him from around the world. The CIA has contracted a beautiful, high flying financial trader currently exiled in Monaco Alice Redmond (Cécile De France) to pique Ivan’s interest (both monetarily as well as romantically) while at the same time the Russian spy agency FSB has one of its top undercover agents Moïse (Jean Dujardin), posing as a French literary agent, to likewise keep the Russian big shot on a short leash. When these two agents from different sides casually meet while on their respective assignments, there are immediate sexual sparks between them, but Moïse knows for the sake of his mission and for his new lover’s safety, he must keep his affair with her secret resulting in some ticklish situations as their identical missions with the Russian result in lots of near misses of discovery by their own teams and by Alice figuring out who Moïse actually is.Scripted by director Eric Rochant, the story for Möbius doesn’t install nearly perilous enough international stakes for us to care much about the actual spy missions being undertaken. They’re muddled and not very interesting (and the occasional insertion of some American actors playing CIA men – among them Wendell Pierce, John Lynch, and Brad Leland who finally explains what the title of the film means – really muddy the waters). Much more time and effort has been expended in developing the scenes of romantic passion between Moïse and Alice. Rochant shoots a couple of tastefully yet provocatively staged love scenes between the two gorgeous actors (he has stated he was going for the same kind of kinetic spark that Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway had in Three Days of the Condor), and those scenes certainly are highlights of the film (even if it does become almost ludicrous that he establishes Moïse’s sexual magnetism as so strong that he can make Alice climax simply by his brushing up against her). There’s also one nifty fight scene between Dujardin’s Moïse and Rostovsky’s bodyguard played by Maksim Vitorgan who has learned the truth of the lovers’ liaison and must be silenced and a Hitchcock-lite moment where the lovers share a cell phone conversation in the presence of Moïse’s undercover team who know nothing of his amorous activities. Otherwise, though, the film is a letdown, and the ending, while trying to capture some of the same tender romantic tension that Notorious had at its conclusion instead comes off as completely phony and ludicrous.The camera loves Jean Dujardin even when he, as he does in this film, merely walks through the role he’s playing. There’s very little urgency here and apart from that fight scene, little sense of danger invested in his performance. Better is Cécile De France ably mimicking sexual ardor and release as Alice. Tim Roth isn’t given much to work with as Ivan Rostovsky, again the script not developing any sense of how dangerous and powerful this individual is, and the few words of Russian he speaks during the film don’t make him a very believable Soviet. Émilie Dequenne has a couple of effective scenes as a female spy working with Moïse who eventually figures out what’s going on between him and Alice.
The Production Rating: 2.5/5
The film has been presented in its theatrical 2.40:1 aspect ratio and is offered in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. Sharpness is generally outstanding apart from an occasional long shot which seems a bit softer in appearance. Color is strong and solid with believable skin tones. Contrast is nicely administered throughout. Black levels are not as deep as they might have been. As the film features French, Russian, and English dialogue, the white subtitles used when appropriate are large and easy to read. The film has been divided into 16 chapters.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is quite strong across the front soundstage but only occasionally effective in the rear surrounds. Only infrequent ambience is used in the rears, and the Jonathan Morali music score echoes in the rears but is most forceful in its front soundstage placement. Dialogue in French, English, and Russian has been well recorded and resides in the center channel.
Audio Rating: 4/5
The Making of Möbius (9:30 total, HD): three brief EPK featurettes present sound bites from director Eric Rochant and stars Jean Dujardin, Cécile De France, Tim Roth, and Maksim Vitorgan about the film’s story, the meaning of the title, and the differences in approaches to acting between the French, Anglo-Saxon, and Russian actors.Interviews with Cast and Crew (HD): brief question and answer interviews with director Eric Rochant (18:54), Tim Roth (5:51), Jean Dujardin (12:42), and Cécile De France (3:51), some of which were used in the above mentioned behind-the-scenes featurettes.Theatrical Trailer (2:01, SD): actually a trailer for the Blu-ray/DVD release.Promo Trailers (HD): Reasonable Doubt, Empire State, Margin Call, Arbitrage, Flowers in the Attic (SD).Ultraviolet: code sheet enclosed in the case.
Special Features Rating: 3/5
While it can’t hold a candle to the romance or high stakes gamesmanship found in Notorious or even in Three Days of the Condor (both of which served as inspirations for the writer-director), Möbius has a couple of good love scenes and a few interestingly staged suspense scenes in its otherwise tangled, tatty tale of international espionage.
Overall Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
Support HTF when you buy this title: