Dear Frankie DVD Review

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by Chris McEneany Jun 1, 2005 at 12:00 AM

    Dear Frankie DVD Review
    SRP: £15.99


    The full-frame image perfectly suits the low-key, almost made-for-TV feel of the film and, as such, never feels cropped or trapped in a box. The skin balance is clean and fresh and quite realistic, and the overall colour palette of earthy browns for the interiors and a cold, washed out bleakness afforded the exterior location work - such as the shipyards - translates well to DVD. However, some scenes exhibited a thin green ghosting around certain characters and objects in the middle-ground. This was quite distracting on a 44 inch screen, but much less so on a 32. There is evidence of edge-enhancement, too. Whilst backgrounds suffer from a slight loss of clarity, most of the action remains front and centre and here, at least, detail is kept up reassuringly.

    With little in the way of pyrotechnics or any real use of vivid colour or fast action, the disc is never stretched in the visual department so, once again, in keeping with the TV feel, you shouldn't really feel cheated by its performance.
    Dear Frankie Picture


    Well, you really aren't expecting much from this in the way of surround, are you? Good, because you certainly won't be getting any. The Dolby Digital 5.1 is really just confined to the front three speakers, but you'll be pleased to know that they manage a reasonable degree of separation - the beach race from right to left, voices from one side or the other etc. The couple of bar-room sequences widen up the soundscape quite realistically with good, well-steered hubbub, and the piano-led score always comes across with great resonance and clarity. But forget the sub and the rears will only supply a little in the way of general ambience.
    Dear Frankie Sound


    Shona Auerbach provides a very scene-specific commentary that gives a lot of the how's and why's of her style of film-making. She gives a good insight into the plot's subtexts, character motivations and developments and explains many of her own directorial choices. On the whole this is a nice, cosy little chat-track - she is cordial and engaging - but there is a tendency for her to just literally describe what is happening on screen, sticking to the actual story as it unfolds and giving up little in the way of anecdote. However, it is quite clear how moved she was by the material. Pleasant enough then, but still lacks enough overall entertainment.

    There are eight Deleted Scenes on offer here with an optional commentary from Auerbach. None are very long, just scene extensions really - most last under a minute - and only a couple actually provide any revealing back story. But one, entitled Dance Scene, appears to have removed under studio pressure because they didn't approve of slow-motion or black and white stylings. Although it is very touching sequence, and one that Auerbach was upset to lose, I can see their point. It just wouldn't gel with the rest of the movie.

    The 13 mins Interview with Auerbach proves that she is an affable, polite and sincere speaker but the whole thing is botched with the awkward use of the questions being cue-carded up onscreen for us and then cutting back to the filmed interview. It proves to be quite jarring when the answer may only last a quick sentence or two and then back to a cue-card again - no flow, and no real insight, either. The interrogation seems to have too many lame questions in the style of “What drew you to Emily Mortimer?” or “Was it easy to pick Gerard Butler?” or “What are your favourite scenes?” A bit of a wasted opportunity.

    Then we get Auerbach's multi-award winning short Seven (17.40) Set in rural Poland, this is Auerbach's poetic and lyrical take on the ages of womanhood, played in reverse from grandmother, through wife, mother, lover, sister, daughter and finally baby. But, to be honest, I couldn't really make any real sense of it. I'm sure that there's a lot of meaning and resonance contained herein but I must confess that the film did little for me. Still, it is nice that it has been included.

    And finally we get the Theatrical Trailer, a couple of forthcomings and the great trailer for Ridley Scott's Kingdom Of Heaven.
    Dear Frankie Extras


    A surprisingly effective small scale drama that wisely holds its emotions in check throughout, letting its timid ambitions soar instead through the nuances of character rather than situation. I know I'm becoming an old softie at heart, but hey, I really enjoyed it when I hardly expected to, and I found Frankie's hug and the seahorse bit played on mind for a long time afterward. Nicely undemanding fare, shot with heart and restraint. Pathe's disc has made an effort with the extras but the ham-fisted interview was a misstep, the deleted scenes add little and the short film Seven, whilst pretty to look at, didn't work for me. But I certainly recommend the film.
    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £15.99

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