• X Y & Zee (Twilight Time) Blu-Ray Review

    Released By: Twilight Time
    Released On: December 18, 2018.
    Director: Brian G. Hutton
    Cast: Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Caine, Susannah York, Margaret Leighton, John Standing, Mary Larkin
    Year: 1972
    Purchase From Screen Archives

    X Y & Zee - Movie Review:

    Zee and Robert Blakeley (Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Caine, respectively) are the epitome of a hip and swinging London couple, making the scene at the end of the hip and swinging 60's. They've got a large and stylish flat stocked with booze and cool knickknacks, a rockin' music collection, and Zee's loud fashion sense is rivalled only by Robert's luscious locks. When they're not hosting legendary parties, they're the couple that everyone wants at their parties, Zee's bombastic personality drawing everyone in while Robert's cold, reserved English manner keeps the ladies guessing.

    Their lives would be absolutely perfect; if it weren't for the fact that they've grown tired of each other, their public relationship showing the strain of their private relationship, in which they natter and pick at each other with a ferocity that doesn't just border on abuse, it charges full steam ahead into mental cruelty and physical violence. Robert may have the persona of the polite, English professional, but he's also got a wicked backhand, and his good-looking and charismatic wife doesn't prevent him from constantly wanting a little variety on the side. Zee tolerates this behaviour, so long as Robert's high-paying job keeps her well-oiled with booze, rock 'n roll records, and flash clothing.

    The regularity of the couple's irregularity gets thrown for a loop one night at a party, though, when Robert is introduced to Stella (Susannah York) a quietly beautiful fashion designer. What starts off as a fling becomes something more, and Robert finds himself spending more and more time with Stella, culminating in the two picking out a brand new apartment together. But while Zee's flippant attitude toward Robert's extracurricular activities was enough to protect her obviously bruised ego in the past, she resorts to more and more outrageous and dangerous behaviour to get his attention as he falls deeply in love with Stella. The grass isn't always greener on the other side, but in a world where everyone is drunk or high pretty much all of the time, it sometimes takes awhile longer to figure that out.

    My mistake in approaching X Y & Zee was that I came at it like it was high art; after all, one need look no further than Michael Caine's distinguished self to get an inkling that this was a proper British film; but X Y & Zee is no such thing. Simply put, it's a soap opera. A trashy, trashy soap opera, filled with infidelity, violence, homosexual stereotypes, vapid personalities, booze, dope, loud music, and sex, sex, and more sex. And as a trashy, trashy soap opera, the film succeeds admirably, with Director Hutton parading these characters in front of the camera, warts and all, with a super-bitchin' soundtrack to show them off. Caine's womanizing and treatment of his wife is atrocious, yet you can't help but keep your eyes on him when he's on screen; Taylor is an antagonizing drunk with a big mouth, a flair for dramatics, and will stoop to any level to protect what's hers; even if she doesn't want it. But you can't help but have sympathy for Zee, who wears her ugly, ugly heart on her sleeve; she's a woman who has it all and should be happy, but wallows in loneliness. Even Susannah York, who puppy dog eyes her way through the film is, of course, the other woman; the homewrecker who is fully aware of how her actions are affecting others; but you can't help but feel sorry for the girl who is caught in the middle of two tyrants.

    Based on the novel Zee & Co. by Edna O'Brien, X, Y & Zee is a great looking and wonderful sounding film, with nary a dull moment; costumes and set design are bang on, the soundtrack locks everything together, and the film unfolds much like the personalities of the characters, with style, grace, and a seedy underbelly that begs to be rolled on over and scratched.

    X Y & Zee - Blu-Ray Review:

    Twilight Time brings X Y & Zee to Blu-ray with a 1.85:1 AVC-encoded transfer that looks wonderful, boasting a lot of grain and detail, while also balancing the flashy colours of the swinging, er, 70's with dim interiors for the more dramatic moments. Grain sometimes appears a little too evident, but this is a product of some slow-motion and other fancy effects, and one instance I attributed to strobing fittingly occurred in a scene with a fireplace, so it was likely intentional. Print damage is very minimal, and the picture is overall strong and perfect for the presentation.

    A DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 track (or 2.0 if your setup won't handle it) does an adequate job of carrying both dialogue and a rockin' soundtrack, with good dynamic range; though there are some instances of clipping evident during the many yelling matches that take place. English Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing are also available, as is an Isolated Music Track.

    The Twilight Time Interactive Catalogue and booklet essay by Julie Kirgo, staples of these releases, add to the supplements.

    X Y & Zee - The Final Word:

    Not knowing what I was heading into, X Y & Zee was a bit of a surprise, a loud and flashy soap opera with a heavy dose of trash and some great performances. It's an enjoyable film with a great transfer, though light on extras.

    Click on the images below for full sized X-Y-And-Zee Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Also, dig how much Sheryl Lee looks like Susannah York in this picture.