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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: DTS 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer

Hilary and Jackie

Roadshow Entertainment/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 115 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

When you grow up the youngest and weediest of six brothers, you understand dislike. When you grow up raised by them while both parents work, you understand a new law; that of the jungle. Brothers arenít parents and arenít held back by parental law. They can all gang up and claim the youngest, weediest, bleeding brother is lying when he says he was dogpiled down the staircase and made to taste shoes before describing the flavour to loud guffaws.

When you are one of two girls though, you share a unique relationship (as did my two younger sisters). Your brothers donít bother you because you are more fragile (even more than their weedy older brother). You cry readily, you donít ever say yes to playing cricket or football and you play with dolls. Not action figures, dolls! Plus, you have girlís germs.

So, girls are an island.

Here too, in Hilary and Jackie, two sisters grow up separated from regular childhood by musical ability. Genius, even. All they have is each other and their music and their overbearing mother forcing them to greater heights. So itís no wonder they become so close as to be almost telepathic. Not that this forms a part of the story, really, but it helps describe how close these two siblings are.

"If you think being an ordinary person is any easier than being an extraordinary one, youíre wrongÖ"

And time passes and children grow up into adults making their way in the world. However, when one drops the social glamour and applause for a simpler life of marriage and children, the other becomes confused and hurt and incomprehensibly jealous, as if she couldnít have done the same herself. When this jealousy grows into a burning bitterness, the simpler life must suddenly be experienced at all costs.

Telling the life story of gifted sisters Hilary and Jackie DuPrť, this is a film with clear intentions, but one which doesnít quite manage to pull them off without being hamfisted. Still, itís definitely an interesting and worthwhile story, but some too obvious symbolism and glaringly unsubtle mood colours have reduced the overall appeal. While this helps establish where we are and what we are supposed to feel, it strikes me as talking down to us a bit and thatís never good.

I also feel disappointment in the staging of some shots. Clever use of light and symbols are wasted by being placed firmly centre-screen. The rest seemed just plain boring. Some great opportunities are wasted as we are led by the hand through the dual stories of the two sisters until finally we receive a very nice scene during an integral performance in the third act that is the one real visual and aural highlight of the piece. The rest just struggle to keep up with that one scene, but give up after the first act and settle into a simpler life...

Distinctions are also a little crayoned in for us with Hilary, who abandons her flautist career for a husband and family, getting painted in drab earthy colours. Meanwhile Jackie, the wild-eyed celebrity of decreasing mental stability, is almost purely limited to vivid slashes of hot colours like blaze orange and blood red. This is just a little overzealous for the calibre of acting talent we have been assigned in the extraordinary Rachel Griffiths and Emily Watson as the sisters. They could have performed this film dressed as the X-Men and the impression would have just as easily come across as they emote their way through the film in perfect synchronicity with each other. They truly help push aside this needless enhancement and give us incredible performances that save the film from the directorís dumbing down.

  Video
Contract

All points look good to begin with; itís in 2.35:1 and itís 16:9 enhanced. Unfortunately, these points just help bring to light the smaller artefacts that appear constantly throughout. Plus the big olí reel markers at the reel changes (which have been completed well without shaking). There are occasional bigger ones too, which is very disappointing considering this film was released and shot in 1998. Colours, again, are a little too well saturated, bleaching anything else out slightly in their deliberate screen presence. The contrast is also too sharp, which makes the film appear quite dark overall. The darkness isnít pure black, but a deep near-black grey and the shadow detail isnít good.

  Audio
Contract

This is a film about two sisters who play shitloads of music. Therefore, the sound has been treated very nicely with both DTS and Dolby Surround 5.1 mixes. However, the music is all that really utilises these. We get some great surround stuff whilst the music is playing and it sounds deeply resonant and worth turning up with the subwoofer jumping in to lend a hand whenever it can. There is also a nice sound package in that aforementioned integral scene in the third act. The sounds of descending madness have never been clearer and are fantastic.

Dialogue gets a little gobbled occasionally, but is mostly clear and well written. Perhaps this is because itís from life, I donít know, but I Ďm convinced and it doesnít sound trite, regardless of numerous opportunities to do so. Sound effects do what theyíre supposed to, but the musical score by Barrington Pheloung joins the more famous musical numbers well. It by no means excels any of these classical pieces, but does its job against brilliant competition admirably.

  Extras
Contract

Hilary and Jackie and Their Trailer it should be called. This is in the smaller ratio of 1.85:1 with 16:9 enhancement and in parts actually features a cleaner picture than the film. This runs the full length of 2:09 all up and is all we get here.

  Overall  
Contract

When all is stripped away this film doesnít hinge on much. While the story is well-written, it is overtold and although Griffiths and Watson do supreme work herein, they canít save this film from being anything more than slightly above ordinary. Which is a real shame because this film has potential in bags. Unfortunately itís treated safely too often and never allowed to explore the possibilities which inevitably holds it back. Worth a look for fans of the girls or anyone wanting some decent acting, but overall a fairly forgettable telling of an interesting story.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=3603
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      And I quote...
    "Spoon-feeding us symbolism and mood colours leave this film nowhere near as challenging as it could have been."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Teac DVD-990
    • TV:
          Sony 51cm
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Subwoofer:
          Akai
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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