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  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( 66:46)
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • None
  • 7 Teaser trailer - Samsara, Satin Rouge, Atanarjuat - The Fast Runner, Brotherhood of the Wolf, Till Human Voices Wake Us, The Tracker, Walking on Water
  • 2 Theatrical trailer - New Zealand Trailer, Australian Trailer
  • Cast/crew biographies
  • 9 Production notes
  • Animated menus
  • Film highlights - Promotion Reel


Madman Entertainment/AV Channel . R4 . COLOR . 92 mins . MA15+ . PAL


With this autumn Rain comes a smashing debut film from a talented New Zealand filmmaker, Christine Jeffs, based on a highly-acclaimed novel by Kirsty Gunn.

Crafted delicately from Gunn’s stunning novel, Rain made its debut at the Cannes Film Festival in May of 2001, and received accolades at a variety of film festivals around the world. Discretely receiving a small theatrical release in Australia, Rain's subject matter deserves its MA classification for 'Adult Themes', as it deals openly and honestly with a family, and specifically adolescence and childhood. Its driving force comes from the two young leads, Aaron Murphy and Alicia Fulford-Wierzbicki, who add presence and empathy to the naturally-acted roles of Jim and Janey.

Accompanying fine performances from its tight cast, Rain draws in John Toon as the director of photography, and Neil Finn as the composer. John Toon’s stunning cinematography grabs the attention of the audience with awe and beauty, and grasps their eyes in each and every frame. Rain was Neil Finn’s first film composition job, and this enabled him to cover new grounds in his music career. His haunting compositions and tracks add emotive life to the film, with tracks by Lisa Germano and Liam Finn (the lead singer of Betchadupa) subtly floating over the top of the amazing imagery. The pacing of the film may be a tad slow for some, however this film is definitely worth a watch, showing true talent from a great cast, quality crew and well-constructed script. Symbols and metaphors are clearly defined and structured, adding a rich textured quality to the film, creating a truly immersive world that will flush you clean like a fresh shower of rain.

"You get everything so wrong"

Rain introduces a talented young lady to the screen, Alicia Fulford-Wierzbicki, who plays the intricately complex role of 13-year-old Janey. Every summer, her family packs up to their ‘batch’ for a break away from absolutely everything, where the kids play all day, and the adults do their own playing at night. Kate (Sarah Peirse), Janey’s mother, is a chain-smoking alcoholic who isn’t happy with the way things are going in her life. Ed (Alistair Browning), Janey’s father, is happy with his ‘batch’ built on the side of the beach – “a little piece of paradise”. Jim (Aaron Murphy), Janey’s younger brother, requires supervision for each and every activity, given by Janey as the adults are often too intoxicated to even care for themselves. And then along comes Cady (Marton Csokas), a visiting photographer who changes all of their lives forever.

One night, in the midst of a summer party, Kate begins an affair with the charming and welcoming Cady, and Janey is at the stage in her life where she can see the cracks starting to form in her parents’ marriage. But not only is she maturing with life experience, she's also discovering her own sexuality, in an aggressively confident manner involving the deliciously hairy-chested Cady (quite different from his smooth-chested role in The Monkey’s Mask). But what follows is a discovery of life, and the portrayal of family holidays, power struggles, brother-sister relations, family ties, coming-of-age sexuality and the pre- and post-effects of the numerous parties are captured on film with exquisite and precise detail, showing in the end that not even the cleansing nature of rain can change some things.


The video is presented in a delightful aspect of 1.78:1, and is 16:9 enhanced. As to whether this is the original aspect is up to some slight debate, with clues leading towards a wider anamorphic ratio boldly shown with the sometimes-awkward and constrictive framing.

This transfer is a real gem, a tear-shaped drop which glistens brightly with the rich cinematography from John Toon. The utter complexity of the natural world as well as the complications of darkly lit sequences all shine through with an exquisite precision. Momentary lapses in clarity do occur when foreground action moves out of frame without an alteration to the focus, which is mildly distracting, but an intentional artistic effect from the director. Colours are audaciously rendered, with a fine green wash over the image, that subtle little reminder that you are watching a film. Blacks show the obviousness of the green wash, with a deeply solid effect, showing no signs of low-level noise. Skin tones are bluntly lifelike with stark definition and superb detail. The odd glimmer of luminescent greens and stunning blues shine through, intensifying the intended colour palette of the film.

Compression-related artefacts are limited to the occasional shimmer in the distance or slight jagged aliasing, but are few and far between. Film artefacts scatter the transfer in a fine fall of flecks that discretely pass through the frame with an isolated presence. A fine wash of grain showers over the entire image for the duration of the film, adding artistic values rather than aggravating issues to the transfer. So if you hadn’t already gathered, this transfer looks artistically stunning, capturing the heart and soul of this touching story.


Two English audio tracks accompany the film on this disc, with an option of a fully-fledged Dolby Digital 5.1 track, or a measly stereo track. Both tracks expel an awesome dynamic range, clearly capturing the minute details of nature as well as the explosive power of a thumping sound system. Dialogue is clear throughout the film, with a slight New Zulland... sorry New Zealand accent that can drown out a word or two – and notably towards the end, does Jim say “you cow”, “you can’t” or “you c...”? You be the judge, as the lack of subtitles doesn’t help in this debate. But regardless of accents, the dialogue carries proudly from the centre speaker, audibly invading the living room.

The front left and right speakers provide effects and directional dialogue, as well as heavily supporting the alternative score. Surround channels remain quiet for most of the film, with the odd spurt of discrete activity tearing through the soundstage. At one point, a superb example of 5.1 sound can be heard, and it is just a pity that these moments are so rare on what would otherwise be a broad soundstage. The subwoofer chimes in appropriately to carry the lower end of the score, which is most noticeable during the party sequences as well as climactic score cues. It’s not exactly the most stunning parade of 5.1-ness, but a realistically soothing combination of effects and directionality sure to give your system a mild workout.


Rain comes with a few brief extras, and sadly these do not include an audio commentary, something that would add colourfully to the film’s analysis. The 16:9-enhanced and animated menus (which too feature audio) look stunning, as you expect from Madman, and clearly show the navigation options.

The production notes can alternatively be accessed from the film’s official website and are divided up into nine clear layouts on this DVD, yet are slightly edited from the online versions. The notes discuss the production of the film, locations and the children.

The production reel runs just shy of nine minutes, and is divided up into six chapters, each showing particular sequences of the film. The video quality is reasonable, but very raw, and is in a widescreen aspect, yet not 16:9 enhanced, with accompanying Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

The international trailers section features the two major theatrical trailers that were used in promoting the film. The New Zealand trailer runs for 2:15, the Australian trailer (as seen on other Madman Propaganda) runs for 2:23. Both clips are in a widescreen aspect, but are not 16:9 enhanced, and feature Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. The music featured in both trailers is available on the stunning soundtrack, and the Australian trailer features a touching song by New Zealand group Betchadupa, titled Lucy’s Song.

The cast and crew profiles feature brief biographies on the major cast and crew involved in the project. The pages are clear to read, and well set out, with two pages for Sara Peirse (Kate), two for Marton Csokas (Cady), one for Alistair Browning (Ed), one for Alicia Fulford-Wierzbicki (Janey), one for Aaron Murphy (Jim), three for Christine Jeffs (director), one for John Toon (cinematographer/associate producer), one for Phillipa Campbell (producer), two for Robin Scholes (executive producer), one for Paul Maxwell (editor), two for Neil Finn (composer) and two for Kirsty Gunn (author).

As per usual, the Madman propaganda occurs under the guise of ‘trailers’, but still holds the same things. Trailers have been included for Samsara (2:16), Satin Rouge (1:38), Atanarjuat - The Fast Runner (1:56), Brotherhood of the Wolf (1:36), Till Human Voices Wake Us (2:03), The Tracker (2:06, and 16:9 enhanced) and Walking on Water (2:26).


This New Zealand gem definitely deserves a watch, and those who get swept away by its deep and cleansing nature will want to own a copy for their collection. The technically sound transfer accompanies an artistically-minded film with a small and relatively vague batch of extra features.

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=2581
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      And I quote...
    "...a truly immersive world that will flush you clean like a fresh shower of rain..."
    - Martin Friedel
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Philips DVD 736K
    • TV:
          TEAC EU68-ST
    • Receiver:
          Sony HT-SL5
    • Speakers:
          Sony SS-MSP2
    • Centre Speaker:
          Sony SS-CNP2
    • Surrounds:
          Sony SS-MSP2
    • Subwoofer:
          Sony SA-WMSP3
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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