It’s difficult to be critical about dramatic subject matter like this – The Only Way follows a Jewish family’s desperate escape from Nazi occupying forces in Denmark. That in and of itself is haunting.
The movie is not.
Using a bargain-grade cinema vierte style, The Only Way lacks conviction to showing the cause and its severity. The drama is stealthy, riding The Only Way’s undercurrent rather than leaping to the surface. There’s a definite case for subtlety in this circumstance, and the lack of major action scenes is refreshing; focus stays entirely on the victims of this German surge.
The drama is stealthy, riding The Only Way’s undercurrent rather than leaping to the surface
Yet the characters lack clarity when trying to find their place in the story, and a narrative motif concerning a pricey violin – a metaphor more than a plot point – comes off as an overdone focal point. The same goes for the score, with a minuscule orchestra playing a Nazi march that sounds more akin to Mel Brooks mocking this type of movie. It’s tonally jarring.
The final act does draw some interest for generating authentic tension. By then, Nazi forces have made notable progress in finding those attempting to flee, yet the core story is told through utterly hollow characters. Jane Seymour withers as the family’s daughter, seen sparingly throughout and she becomes more of a measuring stick for The Only Way’s intensity. Growing worry on her face reflects the genuine uncertainty happening elsewhere.
As a historical note, the suspected Nazi round-up of otherwise peaceful Danes holds frightening truths. The Only Way’s failure is not realizing how terrifying this scenario is. While numerous conversations happen quietly or in loose code, the danger never feels truly near until the closing act, the Danish taking up arms for their fellow countrymen in a brief, violent skirmish. It’s almost bizarre how calm everyone seems until the guns start firing, which maybe is a peek at the Danish culture, or just a failed movie project.
Heavily yellowed, to the point where few colors exist on the print without some yellow tint, VCI’s restoration isn’t that great sadly. Beyond the color, The Only Way falters without any sharpness and barely noticeable grain structure. DNR isn’t the issue so much as limited source material, bothered by compression problems and a lowly scan at less-than-HD resolution.
Print damage persists throughout and in various ways. Maybe it’s a small scratch, dust, or other imperfection. Chances are, a majority of frames have them in some capacity, however minor.
Black levels squander any potential for depth, sinking to an ugly blue. Contrast is lost to the yellowing.
While not a challenging audio source requiring much, the codec choice is still compressed Dolby Digital. It’s fine, considering, Dialog runs dry, flat, and lifeless. Some static and harshness hops in too from the source. Much of this sounds recorded live on small, echo-y sets. A different codec won’t change that.
A 20-minute, 1946 documentary titled Reuinion details the prisoners who were able to escape Nazi concentration camps. Note some of the subtitles are horribly wrong, including one spoken line changed from, “We won’t leave our home,” to, “We’ll leave our home.” That’s a dismal failure given the context and The Only Way’s purpose.
Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided by the label for review. This has not materially affected DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit DoBlu’s about us page.
The Only Way
Haphazardly told and limiting the drama, The Only Way struggles to show the gravitas and severity of the subject matter.
User Review( vote)
The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 29 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots ripped directly from the Blu-ray: