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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Surround
  Subtitles
  • None
  Extras
  • Additional footage - Whatever Happened to Naomi?
  • Animated menus
  • Interviews - With the cast and crew

Secret Bridesmaids' Business

ABC/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 90 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

This qualifies as a REAL chick flick. We have a (nearly all) female ensemble, with a (nearly all) female crew, even with female executives. But it works even for a guy, and something can be drawn out of it for everyone.

This is one telemovie that can easily be called 'Australian humour' – funny one minute, yet heart wrenching the next – take The Secret Life Of Us as an example. One of the greatest features of this film is its appeal – the characters appear real, and everyone should be able to relate to them in some way. Yeah, my sister’s best friend’s girlfriend’s husband’s cousin’s brother is just like that! Everyone has a story like that. Originally adapted from a stage play, the material works well on screen, as it did on stage. The single set makes it easy for a stage production, and the film stays relatively true to this except for some quirky flashbacks, hot desires and even a champagne spa scene.

Australian dance artist paulmac was responsible for the score of the film, and the only down side is that there isn’t enough of it. For large American movies, trance pioneer BT aided with his work in scoring the likes of Go and The Fast and the Furious, and it is great to see a similar style of musician broaden their horizons into film scoring. The end titles song is sung by Peta Morris (of Just The Thing fame), yet sadly it's missing from paulmac’s release 3000 Feet High. Throughout the film all I could hear in my head was "This Is The Sound of Breaking Up" but, alas, it wasn’t there – this film is using original music – quite a rarity for films nowadays. Some films use music to draw audiences in with popular soundtracks such as Crossroads (God forbid) or the superb Moulin Rouge. But this genre of film does not require a pumping top 40 soundtrack to convey its ideas. Still, the music suitably fits the mood and tone of the film, yet at times feels like its going to break out into a dance song – but maybe that is the anticipation of the day before the marriage...

The story focuses on a group of friends – Meg, the bride-to-be, Angela, the long time friend and Sacha, the university friend/party animal. It is the night before Meg’s wedding, and the three girls are stashed away in a hotel room with the panicking mother Val as the final preparations and final problems emerge. But a bigger problem is to come. In a meeting called the ‘secret bridesmaids’ business’ it is revealed that James, Meg’s hubby to be, is having an affair. But the story quickly unravels to reveal that two James’ are to be married on the same day – same last name and all. After a quick call, it is discovered that the second James is the head of a Senior Citizen’s club. But wait, it gets worse, James is having an affair with Naomi, Meg’s best friend. Now Naomi wouldn’t be with an old man, would she? Well maybe, but that’s beside the point. Sacha can’t sleep with this news, and spills the beans about the affair... and boy we are only just into it. But if more is said the story is gone, so how’s that for an introduction?

  Video
Contract

This film was made for television, and was filmed in the aspect of 1.85:1, which is preserved, and is also 16x9 enhanced.

The colours are very bright from the rich yellow roses to the bright white (sorry, ivory) wedding dress. Blacks are incredibly solid and black, with fairly good shadow detail. The only quibble with shadows is that sometimes they appear slightly murky. Skin tones are generally very good, except for James. His flesh appears very red, close to orange, and is just a bit over the top. The female skin tones look natural, lifelike and healthy – well as healthy as they are meant to be.

This is a single sided, single layered disc so there is obviously no layer change present. Unfortunately for the hearing-impaired, no subtitles exist either.

There are a few minor cases of film grain on the disc, which is not terribly distracting, just really apparent. It can be seen on some scenes more than others, as if it was a mixture of quality with the source materials. An example is in the bubbles in the champagne spa at 30:00.

There are no problems with film artefacts – the print is as clean as a whistle. MPEG artefacts are also nowhere to be seen. At one or two points, some ever-so-slight low-level noise can be seen, yet this is nothing to worry about.

The cinematography from Brad Shield looks great, even if it was made for television. Some of the angles are superbly framed, and the exterior lighting highlights the characters in a subtle yet purposeful way. This is where some of the best examples of shadow quality can be seen. With some of the strong ambient light, some scenes appear a little glary compared to the rest of the film, but this isn’t a major flaw, just an observation. On the whole the image is very sharp, however some frames appear slightly soft, as if the camera has briefly fallen out of focus. This is not distracting, but, again, just an observation.

  Audio
Contract

There is only one audio track on this disc – a Dolby Digital 2.0 Pro-Logic English track, so naturally, I listened to this.

For all of the ‘Pro Logic’ it may as well have been a stereo track as the dialogue comes all from the front of the soundstage with no discrete movement from the front directional speakers. The surrounds are used to carry paulmac’s score. The soundtrack sounds surprisingly rich, even without a digital subwoofer track. The deep string piece at 71:30 is a prime example of this Pro-Logic bass, and it sounds incredibly rich. One noticeable point is that the soundtrack is surprisingly enveloping (well during the music anyway) which is great to see. Maybe more stereo tracks should be tweaked to handle Pro-Logic?

There are no problems with audio synchronisation, nor any dialogue issues. Dialogue is clear and easily understood throughout the film. There is no distortion of any sort in the soundtrack.

  Extras
Contract

For a television movie, the extra features are superb. The ABC must have known this would be on DVD. The main menu is animated with the opening score, while the other two menus are static with the same piece of music. They are clear and easily to navigate through with large clear buttons and legible text.

The first of the features is a small clip titled Whatever Happened to Naomi? which runs for 50 seconds and shows... well I can’t say without giving it away, so what did happen to Naomi? It is easily seen why it was cut from the film, as it would have disrupted the flow, but it still is a humorous addition. It is presented with the same high quality as the feature with 16x9 enhancement and Dolby Digital 2.0 Pro Logic audio.

A series of interviews called The Actors is thrown in for good measure and all are presented in the widescreen aspect of 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced and too feature Dolby Digital 2.0 Pro Logic audio. They are interviews with Rebecca Frith (Angela, 1:22), Helen Dallimore (Meg, 2:11), Sacha Horler (Lucy, 3:07), Alice McConnell (Naomi, 1:35), Vince Colosimo (James, 2:06) and Val Lehman (Colleen, 1:29). They are a welcome and interesting addition to this DVD and share some of the cast’s thoughts, attractions and feelings on the project.

The Creative Team is a similar feature to The Actors, except it features the crew, funnily enough. It is presented with the same technical details as The Actors. Interviews are from Lynn-Maree Danzey (the director, 4:15), Lynda House (the producer, 2:18), Kim Buddee (production designer, 2:17) and Elizabeth Coleman (the writer, 2:19). Again these are very welcome and are quite informative on the background of the film, starting from the stage production.

  Overall  
Contract

The film is an interesting addition to the range of independent Australian films available on DVD and it does have some interesting things to say. The video is very good to watch, and the audio suits the genre of film, and the extras, well aren’t they a nice surprise? All of you will be able to watch this very soon on ABC TV and will then be able to decide whether to buy it or not.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=1527
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      And I quote...
    "It’s no secret that this is a fine disc of a television movie that is one real chick flick. Just don’t watch it the day before your wedding..."
    - Martin Friedel
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Nowa DS-8318
    • TV:
          TEAC 68cm CTV
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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