Möbius [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Anthony Arrigo (16th June 2014).
The Film

When is a spy film not a spy film? When it’s a love film. Spy capers have never really gone out of vogue, not as long as James Bond is still alive and kicking into multiplexes once every few years. Most espionage pictures made today are of the loud & action-heavy variety. Those that are done with a more personal, intimate plot that eschews explosions typically get booted into the DTV market. Some manage to break out, as “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” (2011) did a few years back, but it’s a rarity. The glory days of the spy film have long since passed, leaving a legacy that includes classics such as “The Conversation” (1974), “The Parallax View” (1974) and “Three Days of the Condor” (1975). The latter film is notable for featuring a strong romance between the two leads, making it just as much a spy film as it is a love story. Writer & director Eric Rochant’s “Möbius” (2013) attempts to take a cue or two from that picture, though the end result is less successful as a tale of covert operations and mostly successful as a film about two people falling in love despite their current occupations. But Rochant does a disservice by selling this as a spy film. It may ostensibly appear that it is, yet viewers will quickly learn the undercover operations are merely a canvas for which to paint a portrait of love and its consequences.

Monaco. Brainy analyst Alice (Cécile de France) works for a large company, hedging bets against the market to make huge returns on investment. Her bosses love her because she has extensive knowledge of how transactions will play out, but she’s been banned from trading in the U.S. after her part in the financial crisis of 2008. The FSB (Russia’s agency descended from the KGB) wants to recruit her as a mole, hoping to get a lead on one Ivan Rostovsky (Tim Roth), a Russian businessman with deep pockets who they suspect of money laundering. Their top agent, Gregory (codename Moïse) (Jean Dujardin), moves in to get closer to Alice and winds up getting closer than he imagined, turning a couple of drinks into a passionate love affair. Things start to get messy when the CIA becomes actively involved. Gregory is blackmailed as a result of a leaked file, one which would make life very difficult for his mentor back in Russia, a man who is planning to run the FSB soon. Things get messy, Alice & Gregory are put in a bad position, and the film just kind of sputters to a close.

It’s disingenuous to be selling “Möbius” as a spy yarn because there’s really not much spying going on. Sure, Gregory and the FSB have the expected run-ins with Ivan and his band of merry men, but none of it means anything. Two of the world’s top secret organizations – the CIA and the FSB – are after Ivan because they seem to think he might be laundering money. That’s what we’re told during the film’s opening and that’s about all you hear on the subject for the remainder. Ivan is window dressing here, despite being the subject of extreme scrutiny and a worldwide collaborative effort. What exactly is it Alice is supposed to be doing, anyway? There’s all this setup and financial talk that amounts to jack squat once Alice and Gregory have their first encounter at Apocalypse, which might be one of the coolest bars I’ve ever seen. It seems like Gregory is another James Bond type, bedding the hottest actress in the picture and going about his usual business of toppling regimes and stopping bad guys; standard spy stuff. Instead, these two fall into bed and right out of the film. Nothing with Ivan is of importance any longer. The games begin played between the CIA and FSB are there as a foil for this budding romance.

To be fair, the love story is written with some emotional weight, thankfully, otherwise the picture would just be a total loss. Gregory and Alice have such a passionate first night that she only need write a time & place on a notecard after leaving, assured that he will be there. Since Alice is the mole (or Boris, as they’re called here), it isn’t exactly ethical for her to be sleeping with Gregory, one of the FSB’s top guys. This leads to a lot of sneaking around and diddling behind everyone’s backs, least they both get caught and Gregory is sent somewhere very far away. Of course, they do get caught; it’s one of those things that must happen to give the picture some conflict and strife. Their romance feels genuine, not some casual fling where they both keep coming back for the great sex. That’s certainly very much part of it, though, as the two have the kind of tantric sex that would make Sting grin. But they also say sweet words and stroke each other’s hair and he holds her lovingly in his arms. It’s real. So, when a stake is driven between them you feel bad for their predicament and even worse after some left-field events during the (kinda) climax. The biggest thing the film has to an actual climax is Alice’s multiple orgasms.

One major head scratcher here is the nationality given to a couple of our leads. It almost seems like the film realized halfway through that the origins of both Gregory and Ivan didn’t make a ton of sense, so something was hastily written in to both explain it and confuse viewers. Jean Dujardin – who is charming & suave as ever here, by the way – is one of the Frenchiest Frenchman to French on screen, yet here we’re supposed to believe he’s an ex-Russian emigrate who spent some time studying in France. What? Tim Roth, who is clearly British as evidenced by his British accent, is also Russian. He has no trace of a Russian accent and nothing about him seems Russian, but there’s also some throwaway nonsense about why he’s so not-Russian, too. The complicated backstory explaining all of this is just nonsense. “Möbius” has one strength – passion. Outside of that, the rest is half-baked and severely underwritten. Everyone on board delivers some fine performances, especially de France, who is sultry and ungodly gorgeous. But performances can only go so far; the script must take it the rest of the way. This one just hangs out in the middle, waiting to expire.

Video

“Möbius” features a striking 2.40:1 1080p 24/fps AVC MPEG-4 encoded image that excels in showcasing the beauty of the film’s locations. Right off the bat, we’re treated to gorgeous aerial shots of Monaco, the film’s primary locale. The filmmakers don’t let their beautiful trappings go to waste, as there are numerous wide and aerial shots intent on conveying the undeniably gorgeous scenery Monaco has to offer. As for the film proper, there’s little to complain about. Detail is exquisite, highlighting every minute detail present in the frame. Jean Dujardin’s five-o’clock shadow could have its individual hairs counted if you pause at the right moment. Skin tones appear warm and lifelike. Contrast wavers a bit, appearing less strong visually than some of the picture’s other elements. Colors are a little on the muted side, with very few hues popping off the screen. All things considered, however, this is a very strong presentation.

Audio

Though the film’s audio is listed as an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound track (48kHz/24-bit), the reality is this track is more international than it leads on. Much of the dialogue is spoken in either French or Russian, with far less being said in English. The vocal track is presented with no hiccups, coming through crystal clear. Composer Jonathan Morali’s score is superb, seamlessly weaving itself into the fabric of the film without disruption. Morali uses a wordless choir to open the picture before switching over to a more sublime, romantic mood that sets a perfect tone. It can get dramatic at times, but more often than not it’s providing a soft underscore that tells viewers this is a romance, not an action-y spy film. Subtitles are included in English for the hearing impaired and Spanish.

Extras

The majority of the extras are comprised of interviews, which have been broken up into various shorter featurettes. The disc also includes theatrical trailers.

“The Making of Möbius” (1080p) featurettes includes the following segments:

-“A Great Couple of Cinema” runs for 4 minutes and 18 seconds, focusing on the relationship between Dujardin and de France.
- “An International Cast” runs for 3 minutes and 57 seconds, this looks at the remainder of the cast members who hail from across the globe.
- “The Möbius Ribbon” runs for 1 minute and 53 seconds, the film’s actors discuss what the eponymous strip means to them.

Interviews (1080p), which are extensions of the clips seen earlier, are included:

- Eric Rochant – writer/director runs for 18 minutes and 54 seconds.
- Tim Roth runs for 5 minutes and 49 seconds.
- Jean Dujardin runs for 12 minutes and 40 seconds.
- Cécile de France runs for 3 minutes and 51 seconds.

The film’s theatrical trailer (1080i) runs for 2 minutes and 1 second.

Bonus trailers (1080p) are included for:

- “Reasonable Doubt” runs for 2 minutes and 33 seconds.
- “Empire State” runs for 2 minutes and 34 seconds.
- “Margin Call” runs for 2 minutes and 34 seconds.
- “Arbitrage” runs for 2 minutes and 24 seconds.
- “Flowers in the Attic” runs for 1 minute and 34 seconds.
- “EPIX promo” runs for 1 minute and 35 seconds.

The disc also comes equipped with the bookmarks feature, as well as a (useless) BD-Live link.

An HD Ultraviolet digital copy code is included on an insert.

Packaging

The single disc comes housed in a Blu-ray eco case.

Overall

The film tries to sell itself as a gripping espionage thriller, but the reality is this is merely the backdrop for a budding, passionate romance. Our two leading lovers are both excellent, oozing with sex appeal and really selling their relationship. Unfortunately, everything else is just window dressing.

The Film: C+ Video: A- Audio: B+ Extras: C+ Overall: B-

 


DVD Compare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.fr, and amazon.de.