Affairs Of State Blu-ray Review

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Politics and Sex Mix In This DC Thriller

One gets the feeling that Affairs of State was only green-lit because Donald Trump won the presidency and someone thought a sex-fueled thriller about politicians might generate buzz in Hollywood. The project languished for years in development until the latest election cycle.

The tawdry movie is a political thriller vaguely grounded in modern politics. It details the rise and fall of a young political aide as he sleeps his way up the D.C. power ladder. Director Eric Bross has fashioned a campy, ripped-from-the-headlines thriller built around the supposed sexual exploits going on in D.C. It is set in the world of high-stakes national politics but this is not a movie which worries much about policy debates.

In Affairs of State, virtually every decision in D.C. is seemingly driven by the affairs of sleazy politicians and their handlers. It offers a simplified understanding of how things get done inside the Beltway, taking many of its beats from better political thrillers. This movie is no House of Cards in its political sophistication. Think soapy twists and ridiculous turns in the plot as the smarmy political narrative heats up. The pulpy melodrama is laced with sinister hints of violence in D.C.’s never-ending struggle for power.

Think soapy twists and ridiculous turns in the plot as the smarmy political narrative heats up

Struggling political aide Michael Lawson (David Corenswet) is looking for a job and will do anything to take part in Republican Senator Baines’s (David James Elliott) upcoming bid for the presidency. Baines has broken away from the Republicans to start a third party. Utilizing the abilities of his hacker roommate, Michael’s close friend Callie (Thora Birch) hacks footage of an important judge committing an indecent act on video. The compromised judge being a promising candidate for the Supreme Court, Michael sees an opportunity to advance his own career. Michael has political ambitions of his own in the future.

Michael trades that scandalous footage for a spot on Baines’s team of slick political operatives. He negotiates the deal with the sleazy and connected operator behind Baines, Rob Reynolds (Adrian Grenier). Think of Reynolds as the political hatchet man working behind the scenes, doing all the dirty work. Grenier’s casting as Rob Reynolds is a little curious in the role since most would consider him too handsome and too young for it. They try their best hiding him under a beard and prosthetic scar.

Michael quickly gets involved in Senator Baines’s campaign – he almost immediately begins sleeping with the man’s wife, Judith (Mimi Rogers). Judith is a classic politician’s wife, playing the role perfectly in public while a shark behind the scenes. This cesspool of corruption only gets worse when the Senator’s daughter, barely out of high school, takes a liking to Michael. What starts out as a steamy political thriller takes a left turn into romantic melodrama and deadly political scheming behind the scenes.

Some of the movie’s better moments are loosely inspired by real people. Rapper Mad Cash, a world-famous mogul courted by political operators in the movie to put his weight in public behind a candidate, is a riff on Kanye West.

Affairs of State is less a deconstruction of current American politics and more an excuse to wedge lots and lots of sex into a political thriller. The movie hums along with a strong opening act, only to devolve into the usual conspiratorial tropes as the political intrigue mounts on young Michael.

Made for Blue State voters, there really isn’t much of an actual political message. That isn’t to say the movie is a mess or unwatchable. There is definitely an audience for Affairs of State as mindless fun. You must have a strong willing suspension of disbelief and an ability to ignore some of the goofier political moments. Then you can safely enjoy it as a soapy political thriller with a decent cast.

Video

Affairs of State has been shot with the Arri Alexa digital camera. This Blu-ray from Lionsgate offers a decent Hi-Def experience with crisp definition in a somewhat limited palette. The 97-minute main feature, encoded in AVC on a BD-25, is presented at its intended 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Drained of warmer colors, Affairs of State’s picture quality is consistent if underwhelming upon close inspection.

There is an uncanny evenness to the film’s contrast and black levels. Nothing in it really pops with the depth and dimensionality of brighter, more exciting cinematography. The transfer appears to fully replicate the movie’s 2K digital intermediate. The 1080P video is clean, full of detail, and mildly flat. Expect a middle-of-the-road new production in terms of video quality.

Audio

The adequate-sounding 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack offers modest immersion with a nicely integrated score. The dialogue-driven film offers a few opportunities for real discrete action and surround tricks.

Dialogue remains completely intelligible throughout the film. There is a nice balance across the front soundstage that incorporates the average sound design and moody score. Lacking are big dynamics and powerful explosions in the melodrama.

Optional English, English SDH and Spanish subtitles appear in a white font. No dub options are included.

Extras

Lionsgate includes an UltraViolet digital copy that should redeem in HDX on VUDU. First pressings of the disc will include a slipcover.

A fairly amusing commentary and deleted footage are included as special features. Considering this movie was more or less a direct-to-video release with few stars, these bonus features are more than expected.

Audio Commentary – Director Eric Bross and Producer Stephen Israel, along with two other production assistants, give this relaxed and often loose discussion of the movie. It’s a freewheeling commentary, particularly by Stephen Israel. Bross doesn’t hit you over the head with the political allusions, preferring to discuss the mechanics of making this movie behind the scenes.

Deleted Scenes (16:59 in HD) – Eight mostly finished and completed scenes in all are included here, most being cut for the reason of time as explained in the commentary. There is one scene with Michael and Callie that should have been included in the final cut, revealing important information about her background. Why it got cut is a mystery.

Affairs of State Trailer (02:15 in HD)

Trailer Gallery (08:34 in HD) – Trailers for Spinning Man, Future World, Bent, Misconduct, and Acts of Violence play in order.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review by the label. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit our about us page to learn more about DoBlu’s editorial policies.

Affairs Of State
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
3

Movie

A sleazy political thriller that occasionally works if you take it as pure fantasy material.

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User Review
2 (1 vote)

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