All Zipped Up

Sam Ellis is not a good person. He’s a hypocrite, a liar, and pretend moralist. His ethics crusade as a Federal Prosecutor is backed by nightly meetings with escorts while his wife (Lana Heady) stays home.

Zipper does well to build tension. It’s strange – the scenario is one where Ellis is destined to be caught. Audiences should naturally cheer for his career to evaporate as the public slams his actions. Zipper is different. Scenes of worry and even dazed panic generate fear for Ellis. Maybe it’s his likable facade. Patrick Wilson plays Ellis as outgoing, smiling, and in public, composed. His opaque front is a barrier to his crudeness. Credit then to Wilson.

The media loves these stories of corrupt moralists, or rather people as a whole love them which is why media outlets fawn over them. Such circumstances are naturally tantalizing, more so when involving elected officials. Zipper’s breakout comes as it dissects journalism with a derisive (and rushed) view on the process. Ray Winstone’s ready-to-manipulate journalist falls for political posturing and failures. Narrative work shows composure in this final half hour, and Zipper’s actions with paranoia, doubt, and fear are a superb top off to this lanky story of political misdeeds.

There is little legitimacy though – late night, ever exploitative Cinemax would find the material a home.

Until the third act begins unraveling pent up energy, Zipper is lewd. Explicitness and vulgarity are forceful, even considering the salacious topic. Ellis’ stays with escorts bloat the runtime with nary any development; Ellis is there to satisfy himself as the camerawork peers in as a casual voyeur. It’s uncomfortable, although maybe the intent was successfully found in an effort to lean into the realm of the adult. There is little legitimacy though – late night, ever exploitative Cinemax would find the material a home.

Outside of the political games, Zipper finds little to do. Background bit players, even of Richard Dreyfuss’ caliber, are shrugged off. Lena Headey can only lay around and mope until the script needs her fiery side – again, the third act unleashes all. The litany of escort encounters could/should have been cut, giving better development to a determined wife whose final actions have limited weight given her context.

Instead, it’s Patrick Wilson, Patrick Wilson, Patrick Wilson – a fine, overly dominate performance which sadly will say little. Taking an opportunity to answer the question of “why” Ellis broke from his veil of decency, Zipper shies away. The film even condones the actions as normal, a cyclical turn of the mind which some men cannot help but succumb to. There’s no blame. In the end, it’s the public’s fault for obsessing. How oddly sympathetic Zipper chooses to be about personal discretion. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Movie]

Excellent profile @ 1:01

Cinematography is done digitally, keeping images free of noise and consistent. Facial detail is grand, kept in constant view. Clarity in medium shots is superlative. A handful of exteriors – and there are so few as an apparent budget pinch – are excellent. Source resolution is apparently quite high, brought to Blu-ray’s level without loss.

Contrast is keen, dense with heavy lighting schemes if any daylight is visible. Black levels are a help when lights dim, reaching vaunted inky status. Only one shot in Ellis’ home fails to impress, an anomaly on this disc.

Significant impact is generated by color timing. Blues and oranges; they’re tiring. Whites are clipped by a light touch of blue. Flesh tones feel marginally pale. Upbeat moments are the same, just orange. Sweltering oranges, actually.

Alchemy’s Blu-ray work is at least pristine. For being a lower budget studio, their encoding work has been great. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Video]

Dialog-driven audio leaves the TrueHD mix alone to add space to the environments. It’s odd, but Zipper has a superb elevator sequence. While merely ambient noise, considering the context of Zipper’s meager soundfield, the ability to replicate the limited space and mechanics is pleasing. Bars and parties will fill space too.

Exteriors, including a hectic run through traffic, do fine work in separating stereos to ensure Ellis is in danger. Dialog is exclusively locked in the center. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]

Director Mora Stephens offers bright, informative commentary for the main feature and eight deleted scenes (11:32 total), the only bonuses outside of extras. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Extras]

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.


Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.

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