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The celebrated heart surgeon Dr. Vrain supports the research of the offbeat scientist Aldo Gehring, who is inventing an artificial heart. Dr. Vrain performs the first artificial human heart transplant against the advice of the Ethics Committee. Written by
"Threshold" is a film with a very clear, heavy presence of reality. The trade-off of this, of course, is the same as all such realist films - pacing. This is not something you can watch for big thrills and the explosive energy of medical trauma. Richard Pearce, and his cinematographer, Michel Brault, create a world that looks and feels so human it's almost painful. Each successive scene is like a new revelation on light and colour and depth of field. Brault gets right into the action, the movement, the emotional expression. The most remarkable thing about James Salter's script is how it avoids all those common medical clichés and falsehoods so often employed in such stories. The three lead actors - Donald Sutherland, Jeff Goldblum, and Mare Winningham - are observed in an almost documentarian way. They are people of depth, but not in a way we commonly see in films. The characters in "Threshold" are not distant, no, but what we get from them depends on our power of perception. They are laid out in front of us in much the same way as each person we encounter in life. That's the great strength of Pearce's direction here (his next film, "Country", has a similar approach).
"Threshold" is mostly unknown, and not available on DVD. There is one main reason for this - it was a Canadian production, released at a time when such films weren't widely seen, and commonly forgotten soon after. I paid a significant amount to purchase the VHS online. I don't regret this, but the breathtaking cinematography deserves a modern format.
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