The Filipino-based genre movie LEONOR WILL NEVER DIE has such an intimate and funny charm to it that I really hope it finds an audience on Blu Ray. One of the very best performances I saw at last fall’s Toronto International Film Festival was from lead Sheila Francisco as Leonor, who just has such a world within her eyes and presence and you can’t help but cheering her on. This was my personal favourite out of the Midnight Madness section at TIFF last year as it contained everything I loved about movies and something I think all movie fans should see while also keeping its love for genre filmmaking. It’s all in the balance.
The movie opens Leonor who is living in a small apartment with her family. She begins to work on an old screenplay once again but is later hit by a TV that falls out of her window and while comatose, has her screenplay come alive in her head in very bizarre ways.
I think the biggest takeaway here is discovering your life and a much later stage and still being able to get into the groove is something that I think a lot of us can relate to. LEONOR does take a little while to get going but once it goes into the vintage movie-within-a-movie dream it’s pretty captivating. The movie finalizes in such a way that it’s something I don’t want to write about, but let’s just say it had a standing ovation when I saw it at TIFF last fall, especially for Ms. Francisco who had to wipe away tears from the reaction.
About the Blu Ray:
I have nothing but praise for this lovely Blu Ray presentation from Music Box Films. I have reviewed a few of their discs in the past and I love that they really try to make a nice collector’s edition to support the filmmakers. On the presentation front, the aspect ratio is 1.78 instead of 1.85, but this is also the original aspect ratio of the digitally-shot movie. This is quite a low budget production so it does have a high-definition, digital look throughout but it’s very close to what I saw theatrically, and the “flashback” sequences in pillar-boxed 4×3 retain a light, simulated 16mm look. The Filipino soundtrack is very quiet in DTS Master-Audio 5.1 until it picks up towards the end with the musical number. Surrounds are minimal but the soundtrack works when it needs to.
Music Box always has very presentable discs presentations and LEONOR is no exception. Housed in a nice crystal case, there is a fun image collage when you open the disc, complete with a slight “copy” of the disc art when you take said disc out of the case. Always a nice touch. Along with the nice presentation of the movie, there are a few bonus features here including a filmmaker commentary, a short film from the director along with two featurettes about the making of the movie. I would have loved to have also seen Q&A footage from the TIFF screening included, but that IS available on YouTube.
The disc opens with a few trailers for RODEO, FULL TIME and MEDUSA and STRAWBERRY MANSION, all of which were festival hits. My only quibble is these take a long time to play and I wish there was a menu option to bypass this instead of having to chapter jump. There is no digital copy included, which is usually the case with Music Box releases.
For anyone into the love of making movies and discovering yourself again, LEONOR WILL NEVER DIE is a total charmer and especially wonderful for its outstanding lead performance and attention to detail on indie filmmaking, including that joy-inducing final sequence which you will never forget. This is a terrific disc presentation by Music Box Films out of Chicago and it comes highly, highly recommended.
LEONOR WILL NEVER DIE is now available on Blu Ray in the US and Canada. Our thanks to Music Box Films for sending along a copy for review.