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Octane (2007)
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The DIRECTOR'S CUT of Dolphins versus the DVD VERSION of Dolphins/Octane, 14 October 2011

From the outset, I should state that this is a review of the film DOLPHINS as cut by the Director Mark Jay, and not the bastardized DVD version (brought out as Dolphins by Sony in Europe and as Octane by Lionsgate in the US) that seems to have so disappointed the reviewers who have already posted. Word has it that the DVD version was re-cut by the distributors without the director's involvement.

I was lucky enough to catch the Director's Cut of Dolphins at the BOLOGNA FILM FESTIVAL in Italy. I liked it enough to want to have a DVD copy, but when the DVD arrived in the post I realized why the previous reviews had been so negative... it's a very different film! I'll speak about the DIRECTOR'S CUT of Dolphins first then come back to the DVD version of Dolphins/Octane.

The DIRECTOR'S CUT: Filmed in Brighton UK, it is a story about two youngsters from different sides of the tracks who meet by chance and fall in love. Ophelia James is a beautiful, self-harming, punk princess who lives in a large and luxurious house by the sea. Brent Black is a bright, handsome young bloke from a poor, rundown housing estate. The classic story is given an original twist by being set against the background of Brighton's illegal street racing scene, with its amazing customized cars and go-faster attitude.

Most of the cast give wonderfully convincing naturalistic performances. Despite the low budget listed on IMDb, it has remarkably high production values, with the racing scenes being particularly impressive. Most scenes are shot with a striking documentary style realism that draws the viewer in. These are inter-cut with beautiful and poetic images in the romantic scenes, which demonstrate the director's strong and original visual eye. The pairing of these two opposing styles shouldn't work, but they are so skilfully woven together that it does. The action is backed by a series of well-chosen and often classic tracks, although the scored music is a little underwhelming in places. My vote for the DIRECTOR'S CUT of Dolphins is 7.5/10, but considering it's a first feature I'm impatient to see what Mark Jay will do next.

The DVD VERSION of Dolphins/Octane is very different. The film has been re-cut in an apparent attempt to convert it from an across the tracks romance into a boy racers' bonanza. It's obviously trying to be a UK version of "The Fast and the Furious", but it doesn't work. A lot of what's good in Dolphins has been brutally and ineptly cut out and replaced, it appears, by alternative takes of the racing scenes. The result is flat, unbalanced and uninspiring. It's difficult to understand why someone would take a perfectly good film and ruin it!! My vote for the DVD VERSION of Dolphins/Octane is 6/10.