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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Commentary - English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • 5 Theatrical trailer - Very Annie Mary, Rain, Swing, The Tracker, Satin Rouge
  • Audio commentary - Director Sara Sugarman
  • Featurette - Behind The Scenes
  • Behind the scenes footage
  • Interviews - Cast and Crew
  • Jacket picture

Very Annie Mary

Madman Cinema/AV Channel . R4 . COLOR . 100 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Set in the sleepy town of Ogw in South Wales, this is the story of Annie Mary, a hopelessly sweet girl trying desperately to find herself. Rachel Griffiths plays Annie Mary to perfection, utilising all of her remarkable talents and gawkiness to portray this awkward young lady and bring this charming story to life.

Annie Mary’s father is an eccentric lothario about town who treats Annie Mary like a general dog’s body. Running the local bakery, he is obsessed with Luciano Pavarotti and sings his heart out through loudspeakers atop his bread van. When 25 year old Annie Mary struggles to find the money to buy her dream house and finally move away from home, her father treats her worse than ever. Until one day, that is, when disaster strikes and suddenly Annie Mary is running the bakery (although ineptly) and trying to support him and herself. Throughout all this, Annie’s best friend, Bethan Bevan, has a terminal illness and the whole town is trying to raise enough money to send her to Disneyland (although all she wants is a decent sound system).

Enter Mrs Ifens, a sleazy woman in love with the singing baker, who tries to sabotage Annie’s efforts at the bakery, forcing her to join a Village People tribute band to raise money for her dying friend. When they are sent to Cardiff for a talent show, however, Annie begins to shine away from the inscrutable glare of her father, and after seeing a better quality Village People band, devises a method to win the contest and raise the money. Naturally, this is the point where all Annie’s plans misfire and things begin to go downhill very rapidly.

In a genuinely affectionate piece, director Sara Sugarman has created a whimsical film with some bizarre characters inhabiting this odd little town. Reflective of films like Little Voice, Waking Ned Devine, Saving Grace and even our very own Muriel’s Wedding, Very Annie Mary is built on the strength of Rachel Griffith’s performance alone. Some commendable support comes in from Jonathan Pryce (singing all his own parts, as he did in Unconditional Love) as Annie’s father and the remains of the ensemble cast. Delightfully told with some genuine moments of cringing, sweetness, horror and a bunch of touching scenes between Annie and Bethan, this is a wonderful film that showcases the extraordinary talent of Rachel Griffiths.

  Video
Contract

A perfectly delivered transfer with only tiny instances of unaffecting aliasing. Colours are rich and full (the green grass of Wales is remarkable), there are no noticeable film artefacts and the blacks are all true. Shadows are well detailed, particularly important in some of the real sets and the interior of the bakery, and although the flesh tones hover around pallid sometimes, I’m sure that’s just from the Welsh extras and townsfolk. The picture comes over to DVD in the cinematic ratio of 1.85:1 and has been 16:9 enhanced for widescreen tellies.

  Audio
Contract

As this film was made but last year (2002), the sound is naturally pretty good. Music is an important part of this film and it sounds just great throughout, which is surprising given it’s only Dolby Digital stereo. The soundtrack includes Welsh singing voices right through to recorded tracks and everything is fairly well balanced, although the music does come in a tad louder than the dialogue occasionally. Dialogue, on the subject, is superbly transferred. Set in South Wales there are some hefty accents contained within this piece and you might have trouble figuring out one or two statements, but for the most part they’re fairly understandable.

Sound effects are all supportive of the action and there’s nothing that really stands out. If I might go back to music though, there are some hilarious moments of singing in this film, although it isn’t a musical, and the operetta voices used throughout are quite magnificent. As to recorded tracks, the predominantly female recording artists range from the pop covers of Cerys Matthews (of Catatonia to the breathy jazz of Anita Kelsey (the Dark City soundtrack, among others).

  Extras
Contract

There is quite an impressive collection of extras chucked in here that do add to our viewing pleasure. Firstly, though, the director’s commentary by Sara Sugarman is a little strained. Whilst she has some interesting points to make about shooting and trivia and such, she tends to enjoy watching the movie a bit and there are interminably long pauses between bouts of speaking.

A behind the scenes featurette airs next and this is 5:47 of soundbite interviews with cast and crew. Presented in 4:3, this contains some repeats from the interviews that I’ll get to in a minute.

A 1:44 trailer with a lame voiceover follows and is presented in classic 4:3. Follow that with On Location, which is basically 16:04 of videotaped behind the scenes footage. There isn’t any narration or anything, it’s basically just edited together shots and seems to feature a lot of the director enjoying the shoot.

However, cast and crew interviews come next and these are the usual text questions with filmed responses. A bunch of the cast and the director all field questions here and there are some repeats as I mentioned above. Still, it is entertaining to learn some interesting tidbits from the filming.

And, apart from the traditional Madman Propaganda trailers, that’s it. The four trailers featured are for Rain, The Tracker, Satin Rouge and Swing. So, not a bad batch of extras, particularly nice considering this is a rental.

And one last noteable; the jacket picture on this DVD is flawed. (For those who don't know, the jacket picture is the picture that comes up on screen when you hit STOP on your remote. It's not on all DVDs). It suffers some hefty pixellation of the main menu pic and while it looks mildly cool, I doubt it was intentional. Still, this is a small failing for such a fun film.

  Overall  
Contract

I really, really enjoyed this film. Rachel Griffiths shines in the role of Annie Mary and without her, there really would have been no film. She brings to the character her usual sweetness and undercurrent of malevolence that makes her work so nice to watch. Not only that, but her Welsh accent is extraordinary (apparently she lived with a Welsh lady named Wendy Phillips for a while to learn the accent. On an extra trivia note, Wendy has appeared in all Sugarman’s previous films).

The story, whilst not being particularly original, does have its own take on the idea and is very entertaining. At 100 minutes it doesn’t run too long and you may well find yourself experiencing a whole gamut of emotions throughout this rollercoaster ride. This has been cleverly shot with genuine affection for the characters and place and looks quite sensational transfer wise. Those crazy folk at Madman certainly do a great job.

Whilst I’ve given the film an eight out of ten, our Rachel gets a ten out of ten because she’s just so magnificently perfect in this film.


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      And I quote...
    "Rachel Griffiths is nothing short of perfect in this sweet tale of a less than perfect girl."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Nintaus DVD-N9901
    • TV:
          Sony 51cm
    • Receiver:
          Diamond
    • Speakers:
          Diamond
    • Surrounds:
          No Name
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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