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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL 59:24)
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Italian: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, Italian, Hebrew, English - Hearing Impaired, Italian - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • Deleted scenes
  • Theatrical trailer
  • 2 Audio commentary
  • Featurette
  • Photo gallery
  • Animated menus
  • Music video
  • Filmographies

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

Warner Bros./Warner Home Video . R4 . COLOR . 112 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Well, no doubt from the title most of you would have guessed the target audience for this film - did somebody say “chick flick”? I will do my utmost to give an honest and impartial view of the film, even though I am but a mere male. First things first is the big question, what the hell is a "Ya-Ya"? Quite simply it is a form of blood brothers, a group of young girls that decide to prove their loyalty toward each other by forming a sisterhood based on American Indian rituals and yes, blood is exchanged.

Siddalee Walker (Sandra Bullock) is a playwright and quite a successful one at that. She has just given an interview to Time magazine and has unsuspectingly made a comment about her mother Viviane Abbott Walker (Ellen Burstyn) that is taken out of context. The problem now is the rift it causes between mother and daughter. The only possible way to resolve things is to call in the sisterhood, made up of Teensy (Fionnula Flanagan), Caro (Maggie Smith) and Necie (Shirley Knight). They decide to kidnap Sidda, give her an insight into the Ya-Ya’s and to try and show her why her mother is the way she is.

"I hope this is not a real emergency, because I only brought one bottle of vodka!"

Based in Louisiana, we are taken on a series of flashbacks looking at the past of the Ya-Ya ladies from their childhood to adulthood. It explores the relationships between women and, more importantly, between mothers and daughters. It looks at the hardships faced throughout their lives along with the joys, the one constant being the friendship between the four women. All have led interesting lives and these are recounted via a scrapbook the women have kept.

There are touches of Fried Green Tomatoes, Beaches, Thelma and Louise and Steel Magnolias, but I must admit it doesn’t quite reach the potential of any of them. It is not a bad film by any means, but with a cast containing the likes of the divine Maggie Smith and the amusing Ellen Burstyn, this film could have been so much more. This is to take nothing away from the acting, the entire cast give terrific performances, there just seems to be a lack of any major events, dramatic or otherwise. I will freely admit to have not read the books of Rebecca Wells on which this film is based, but I would suggest this story makes for a far better read than a big-screen adaptation. Many should find enjoyment within this film, if for nothing else then at least for the superb cast on show, however I did find it a touch too uneventful and a little longwinded on occasion. There are a few laughs and the characters are very endearing, even with their annoying southern accents y’all, so I'd suggest that most women should enjoy this film, but I can’t see many men getting much from it.

  Video
Contract

Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and 16:9 enhanced, this transfer is excellent. Picture is sharp throughout with very few problems, quite as you'd expect really for a recent release. Detail is excellent and colours are very natural. There is minor grain and aliasing in a couple of places, but these almost pass by unnoticed. There is also some slight edge enhancement, but again this is minor and causes no problems. The layer change is located at 59:24 during a scene change and causes little interruption. There is also a multitude of subtitles supplied and those viewed were reasonably accurate.

  Audio
Contract

Audio for the main feature is supplied in a choice of English or Italian Dolby Digital 5.1, while the extras are generally in Dolby Digital 2.0. With my Italian being a little rusty (well, non-existent actually) I listened to the English versions of each. Being a predominantly dialogue-driven feature, this excelled in that area. Dialogue is always clear and audible and stays primarily on the front centre speaker. Surround use is minimal, with the rear speakers only needed for music ambience and the occasional directional effect. The subwoofer remains quite dormant throughout, but isn't really required. Music used is well suited and includes some fine songs from artists such as Macy Gray, Lauryn Hill, Ray Charles, Tony Bennett and Bob Dylan.

  Extras
Contract

Quite a substantial amount of extras accompany this release.

Cast & Crew
This is simply a two page listing of cast a crew involved with the film.

Filmmakers' Commentary
Featuring director Callie Khouri, producers Hunt Lowry and Bonnie Bruckheimer and composer T. Bone Burnett, this commentary is reasonable to listen to, but is dominated by the director. It gives insights into the making of the film, casting, locations and the music used in the film. As is the norm with commentaries, there are some long pauses in some areas and it is hard at times to know who is actually talking.

Callie Khouri & Ashley Judd Commentary
A much better commentary than the first, as it is always easier to listen to only two people talking than a group. With the director being on the first commentary there is inevitably some duplication, but the interaction between the two here is much more enjoyable and informative. They go scene by scene and comment on certain aspects throughout giving the viewer a much better insight from an actor's point of view as well as a director's.

Unlocking the Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
With a running time of 14:16, this featurette contains scenes from the film and provides an idea of what it's all about. There are also interviews with the main cast in what is obviosuly meant as a typical promotional vehicle.

Alison Knowles Music Video “Sitting in The Window of My Room”
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo, this music video from the film runs for 3:27.

”Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” Scrapbook
Quite a novel little feature this one. Upon first selection it appears to be a pretty average looking photo gallery, but then the photos are selectable and each contain mini featurettes on each selected character. There are also featurettes on different subjects and a photo gallery. The featurettes vary in running time from 36 seconds to over three minutes, but this feature is quite easy to navigate and is quite interesting.

Deleted Scenes
Containing 11 deleted scenes, this feature has a running time of 15:52 and is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and DD 2.0 stereo audio. There's nothing too major here, but it's a nice addition nonetheless. Unfortunately neither the sound or video quality is as good as the main feature.

Theatrical Trailer
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and 16:9 enhanced, but only DD 2.0 stereo, this trailer runs for 1:26 and shows some of the better moments from the film.

  Overall  
Contract

Overall this is one for women only. The cast is a collection of fine acting talent and this looks and sounds wonderful. Personally I found the story to be lacking, but perhaps my views would be different had I been female. A nice collection of extras accompany this release also, so if you have seen the film and loved it then go buy it, if not then I would suggest it still may be worth a rental.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=2328
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      And I quote...
    "A superb cast in a film aimed solely at women, this should please those ladies out there who enjoy films that explore relationships between mother and daughter."
    - Adrian Turvey
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-NS305
    • TV:
          AKAI CT-29S55AT 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Sony STR-DE685
    • Speakers:
          Sony SAVE815ED
    • Centre Speaker:
          Sony SAVE815ED
    • Surrounds:
          Sony SAVE815ED
    • Subwoofer:
          Sony SAVE815ED
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