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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Czech: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Hungarian: Dolby Digital Stereo
    English, Czech, Greek, Hungarian, Arabic, Turkish, Romanian
  • Theatrical trailer

How to Make an American Quilt

Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 112 mins . PG . PAL


My mum makes quilts and years ago my sister worked for a radio station here in Brisbane. She got a couple of free tickets to the preview through them and took Mum to see this. You thought this story was going somewhere, didn’t you?

Well, it’s pretty much the same here. Winona Ryder plays Finn, a young graduate student spending the summer away from her fiancée so as to finish her thesis on traditional women’s roles around the world (or something). Staying with her aunt and grandmother because her mother is a hippy fruitcake, she listens to the stories of her aunt’s friends as they make a quilt with the theme ‘Where Love Resides’. As each woman portrays her own story of love lost or found, Finn begins to see her own life a little clearer.

There isn’t anything new about this story at all. In fact, I could have sworn I was watching The Joy Luck Club at one stage. However, it is a roundabout way of sharing many stories, tied together by the unifying factor of Finn. This works to the fact that some of the stories are quite simple, so fortunately we don’t linger too long on each. There are some truly great performances here from the massive ensemble of stars, but the real performance comes in from Alfré Woodard for my money (though intelligently, the case calls her ‘Alfred’ with a ‘d’ not once, but twice, including above the title!). Maya Angelou is also a highlight playing Alfré’s mom (I keep seeing Lenny from The Simpsons fawning over Ms Angelou at the book fair and stating she’s ‘a national treasure!’).

Generally this is a pleasant movie to watch, though it is a bit of a chick film and Winona does manage more of her famous whining throughout. However, the main fabric of the piece doesn’t come through in Winona, but in the well delivered stories of each of the women who add their pieces to form the composite story. And isn’t that exactly what a quilt is? I call it The Joy Luck Quilt (and the author of The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan, also sits alongside Maya Angelou in the aforementioned episode of The Simpsons. Coincidence? I think not.)


Well, the picture is actually very nice. It’s quite limited in artefacts and has shadows that give up their details. True blacks as well and the colours are presented well balanced, if the teensy tiniest bit flat. The original theatrical aspect of 1.85:1 has been presented with 16:9 enhancement and comes across well. There seems little else to say, other than that I couldn’t really fault the video presentation. Well done, Universal.


The sound has been presented a little bit low. With so many stories happening, the dialogue is important, even if we could probably guess what’s going on without it. However, it’s all well spoken and easy enough to understand and the music doesn’t overpower it at all. Everything basically sounds alright, but for this low volume, which, while not making things inaudible, is slightly frustrating and will have the volume up above average levels on your TV. The sound, by the way, has been presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, so this is a shame.


Anyone like Trailers? Because there is a ripping one-in-a-row featuring the original theatrical plug for this film. That’ll be enough to keep you busy for two and a half minutes. Oh, and it’s delivered in blistering full frame 4:3.


With Oscar winners Ellen Burstyn and Anne Bancroft in leading roles, we’re assured dynamite performances and we get them. Add to them the other impressive cast members and you have a very watchable film. Not that it really goes anywhere but in a circle, and not that it will be life changing, but it is a nice story (or quilt of stories) that will entertain. The similarities to Joy Luck are there, though that particular film was directed by a man, Wayne Wang, whilst American Quilt was directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse. This lends a different feel to this film and a genuine woman’s perspective that seemed the slightest bit distant in Wang’s.

However, the performances are great, the tales interesting and the DVD treatment good enough to warrant adding this one to your chick film shelf.

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=2885
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      And I quote...
    "Herein lies Winona’s love of the chick movie brought to the fore once again."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Nintaus DVD-N9901
    • TV:
          Sony 51cm
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          No Name
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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