Brian Cox’s Shining Performance

Known as Rory’s Way in the UK and European markets, Brian Cox headlines the sentimental The Etruscan Smile. Sensitively adapting the best-selling Spanish novel “La sonrisa etrusca,” a gruff and cantankerous grandfather reconnects with his estranged son. The man’s elderly life is transformed when he meets his infant grandson for the first time.

The Etruscan Smile’s cast boasts a strong ensemble featuring Rosanna Arquette, JJ Feild, Thora Birch, Tim Matheson, Peter Coyote, and Treat Williams. Six-time Academy Award-winner Arthur Cohn produces a delightful, gentle movie about confronting death while enjoying life. It celebrates family, love and friendship without stepping into hackneyed territory.

The Etruscan Smile is tender family drama with positive vibes

Co-directed by Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis, The Etruscan Smile is a wonderful vehicle for Brian Cox’s talents. Playing a rugged Scotsman named Rory MacNeil, the elderly man reluctantly leaves his beloved Hebridean island home for San Francisco. His estranged son Ian hasn’t seen his father in fifteen years, having become a successful chef in the city. Rory is not visiting for a family reunion, he’s seeking medical treatment for serious health issues.

Ian and his wife Emily (Thora Birch) introduce Rory to his infant grandson. Ornery at first, Rory begins enjoying taking care of the baby, even if his unusual habits are alien to the modern parents. Overwhelmed in the beginning by the challenges of living in San Francisco, Rory meets life head-on with renewed vigor and passion when he meets a museum curator played by Rosanna Arquette.

The heart-felt narrative is a showcase for Brian Cox’s moving performance. He looks very comfortable spouting off in Gaelic dialogue, a recurring sub-plot. The well-made film has a superb cast, offering a genuine and sincere take on the human experience. Humor, pain, loss, regret – The Etruscan Smile is tender family drama with positive vibes.

It’s unavoidable in some respects that The Etruscan Smile dabbles in familiar ground. A man boldly confronting a terminal illness isn’t exactly new subject matter for cinema. What makes the movie compelling is Cox’s authentic performance and the array of characters written with outstanding depth. The predictable narrative doesn’t get in the cast’s way.

A favorite on the festival circuit, The Etruscan Smile’s easy charms and simple pleasures make for rewarding entertainment.


Lightyear Entertainment gives the movie a first-class 2.40:1 presentation on Blu-ray that honors the excellent source material. The Etruscan Smile has absolutely impressive cinematography that highlights the shores of Scotland and urban wonders of San Francisco. This is easily one of the best-looking dramas I’ve seen this year on the format.

Sweeping and panoramic, the 1080P video exudes razor-sharp definition. Clarity is on the high side, capturing expressive detail and visible texture. Black levels are fantastic and the even contrast helps maintain steady color saturation.

The main feature runs 107 minutes on a BD-25. It is encoded in AVC, averaging nearly 23 Mbps. The pristine digital intermediate is perfectly reproduced, receiving an immaculate film transfer. The digital color grading keeps flesh-tones neutral while looking respectably healthy.


The Etruscan Smile’s gently immersive surround mix is heard in perfect-sounding 5.1 DTS-HD MA. The fine score from composer Frank Ilfman is unobtrusive and spread evenly throughout the expansive soundstage. Dialogue is cleanly reproduced from the center channel. The movie is almost entirely driven by dialogue, mostly in English with a few bits of Scottish language thrown in for good measure.

No subtitles are included except hard-coded English subtitles for the brief stretches of Gaelic dialogue. Secondary audio is included in 2.0 PCM.


No special features are included beyond a few trailers.

The Etruscan Smile Trailer (01:59 in HD)

Tanna Trailer (02:21 in HD)

Maze Trailer (01:54 in HD)

Goldstone Trailer (01:59 in HD)

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.

The Etruscan Smile
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Tender, sentimental drama with a captivating Brian Cox performance elevating the fairly standard dramatic narrative.

User Review
3 (1 vote)

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