• The Cool Lakes Of Death (Cult Epics) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Cult Epics
    Released on: May 11th, 2021.
    Director: Nouchka van Brakel
    Cast: Renee Soutendijk, Derek de Lint, Adriaan Olree, Erik van 't Wout, Peter Faber
    Year: 1982
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    The Cool Lakes Of Death – Movie Review:

    Based on novelist Frederik van Eeden’s book, Nouchka van Brakel’s 1982 film, The Cool Lakes Of Death (Van De Koele Meren Des Doods in its native Holland) is a lushly produced period film with strong production values, beautiful camerawork and a few really strong performances.

    The core storyline revolves around a woman named Hedwig (Renée Soutendijk). On the surface, she’d seem to have everything that a woman in the 1869 could want. She’s fabulously wealthy, has good help and lives in a beautiful home. She is, however, reasonably lonely despite her high social standing and lot in life. She becomes depressed after getting ill and finding out that her mother died in childbirth and her marriage to a lawyer named Gerard (Adriaan Olree) quickly turns passionless and dull.

    Hedwig finds solace with Johan (Erik van 't Wout), an orphan boy she befriended when she was younger. He has carried a torch for her for a long time, but obviously her marriage to Gerard put a stop to anything that might come of that relationship. Things get worse for her when Gerard’s issues in the bedroom come into play and Hedwig learns that she’ll never be able to have children.

    Things with Johan get complicated when she portrays her in some rather explicit drawings that he creates, leading to a scandal and then his own suicide. Hedwig tries to follow suit and take her own life, but Gerard steps in and saves her at the last minute. She’s sent to a home on the coast to get things back together, and there reconnects with Ritsaart (Derek de Lint), a pianist by trade who has long been close friends with her brother. They begin a torrid love affair and run off to England to be together without the complications of their respective pasts coming into play. Their relationship sours, she miscarries and through a few twists of fate, she winds up working as a prostitute in Paris where her life goes from bad to worse.

    Feel good movie of the year this is not but Renée Soutendijk’s work as the lead in the picture is so good that even if this one might leave you feeling less than jovial about life and its challenges, The Cool Lakes of Death is a picture worth seeking out. She’s completely believable in a role that must have been very difficult to bring to life, given how often it tends to shift and to change over the course of the picture. The rest of the cast are also very good here but it’s Soutendijk’s performance that sticks with you after finishing the film.

    Nouchka van Brakel’s direction is good and the film features some excellent cinematography. The depictions of sex in the film are shot well and the whole thing boasts some interesting and unique composition work. Add to this a strong score and a story that unfolds deliberately but with very good character development and it’s easy to see why The Cool Lakes Of Death has been so well regarded in arthouse film circles since its debut almost forty years ago.

    The Cool Lakes Of Death – Blu-ray Review:

    The Cool Lakes Of Death arrives on region Blu-ray from Cult Epics in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.66.1 on a 50GB disc with the feature taking up 36.7GBs of space taken from a new 4k transfer of the original 35mm negative. There are some small white specks here and there but overall the image is nice and clean. The colors look maybe just a tad faded but overall, this transfer is pretty solid. Detail is strong throughout and there are no issues with any obvious compression artifacts or edge enhancement related issues. There is a good chunk of the film, towards the end, where a few scenes were shot with a deliberately soft, almost gauzy look, so expect detail to drop there, but it’s clearly intentional. Overall, the picture always looks nice and film-like, showing the expected amount of natural film grain throughout.

    Dutch audio options are provided in 16-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono and 16-bit LPCM 2.0 Mono with optional subtitles offered up in English only. The audio is clean, clear and properly balanced. There aren’t any noticeable issues with any hiss or distortion and the subtitles are easy to read and free of any obvious typos.

    The main extra on the disc is a black and white Polygon Journal Newsreel from 1982 that runs two-minutes that sets up the story briefly before then discussing the plot and what was then the film’s upcoming debut.

    Aside from that we get a of theatrical trailer for the feature, a few bonus trailers (A Woman Like Eve, The Debut and Blue Movie), a poster and still gallery, menus and chapter selection. Cult Epics also provides some nice reversible cover sleeve art for this release.

    The Cool Lakes Of Death - The Final Word:

    The Cool Lakes Of Death is a pretty grim film but it’s very well made and Renée Soutendijk is excellent in it. Cult Epics’ Blu-ray release doesn’t offer up much in the way of extra features but it does offer up this artistically challenging film in a very nice presentation.

    Click on the images below for full sized The Cool Lakes Of Death Blu-ray screen caps!