Unconditional Love (2002)

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Released 16-Jul-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Dolby Digital Trailer-Egypt
Theatrical Trailer
Main Menu Introduction
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 116:26
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (64:06) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By P.J. Hogan
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Kathy Bates
Rupert Everett
Peter Sarsgaard
Lynn Redgrave
Dan Ackroyd
Jonathan Pryce
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $39.95 Music James Newton Howard


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This light-hearted film - not quite a romantic comedy but clearly romantic in nature - is penned by two Australians: P.J. Hogan (director of My Best Friend's Wedding as well as screenwriter for Muriel's Wedding) and Jocelyn Moorhouse (director of How To Make An American Quilt and producer of Muriel's Wedding). It is also directed by P.J. Hogan.

    Although the film was shot in 1999 and 2000, and originally intended for theatrical release in early 2001, it appears to have gone nowhere. New Line Cinema kept deferring the release in the US (the primary market for the film) and eventually decided to cancel the release altogether, opting for a direct-to-video release later this year. The film did have a limited release in Europe and Australia in 2002 where it received fairly poor box office returns.

    A bit of a pity, really, because I quite enjoyed the quirky humour and it is certainly a watchable film, though by no means perfect. Perhaps the humour is a bit too quirky in a peculiarly Australian way and did not go down well with American audiences during test screenings. There are certainly aspects of Muriel's Wedding, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Moulin Rouge and My Best Friend's Wedding in this film, particularly in the use of popular songs sung by the cast as an integral part of the plot.

    Grace Beasley (Kathy Bates) is a housewife married to boring lawyer Max (Dan Aykroyd). She also happens to be a big fan of romantic crooner Victor Fox (Jonathan Pryce). On the day she wins a front row ticket to a Victor Fox TV special concert performance, her husband announces that he is leaving her. Devastated, she then finds out that Victor Fox has been brutally murdered just prior to the concert performance by the "crossbow" serial killer stalking the streets of Chicago.

    Her whole life collapsing before her, Grace decides to throw caution to the wind and flies to England to attend Victor's funeral. She then finds out that Victor was in fact a closet homosexual. His boyfriend of the past ten years, Dirk Simpson (Rupert Everett) claims that Victor had promised to leave him his house, but since Victor has written no will his sisters are scheming to kick Dirk out of the house.

    An unlikely friendship develops between Grace and Dirk and the two eventually decide to return to Chicago to try and hunt down the killer who has murdered the man they both loved.

    The film features Jonathan Pryce singing some well-known tunes, including Beneath A Blanket of Stars, Always On My Mind, All The Way, For The Good Times, Can't Help Falling In Love, Close To You, I Only Want To Be With You, and Over The Rainbow. In addition, we also get Kathy Bates singing snippets of Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head and Dan Ackroyd singing How Deep Is The Ocean. We also get two cameo appearances by Julie Andrews (singing Getting To Know You). Finally, in the ending we have Kathy Bates, Rupert Everett and Meredith Eaton singing Can't Smile Without You along with cameo appearances by Barry Manilow and Sally Jessie Raphael.

    There is a lot of subtle humour that I rather enjoyed. For example, Victor's hometown is called "Lark", apparently he has released a CD called "Victor sings Dusty" (followed immediately by background music of Victor singing I Only Want To Be With You), and the gun shop that Dirk enters is called "Lock and Load" (and Dirk says "I'm British and I need a gun.").

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Interestingly, for a comedy like this, we are treated to a widescreen 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced transfer in what is presumably the intended aspect ratio.

    Given that the film was made so recently, we get a fairly clean transfer with virtually no film marks and no visible signs of grain.

    The transfer is probably ever so slightly on the soft side, with colours that are well saturated but on occasion slightly bleached or bloomy. The bloominess or smearing seems to extend into the closing credits, so perhaps this is intentional.

    There is an English for the Hearing Impaired subtitle track available, and it seems to be enabled by default as I had to initially turn it off manually to watch the film. The subtitles are placed underneath the speaking character, and background music and lyrics to songs sung are also transcribed.

    Video artefacts are minimal, consisting of slight haloing around opening titles and some shimmering in end titles. I did not detect any compression artefacts.

    This is a single sided dual layered disc (RSDL). The layer change occurs in Chapter 8 at 64:06, right after the man in the pub asks Dirk "Are you the valet?". There is a slight pause, but it is not too annoying.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is only one audio track: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s).

    This is a reasonably pleasant-sounding audio track, with good dialogue and no audio synchronization issues.

    The highlight of the film is of course the many "easy listening" songs sung by "Victor Fox" (actually sung by Jonathan Pryce) and occasionally by the other members of the cast (particularly Kathy Bates). The original music score is by James Newton Howard.

    Although the soundtrack was not continuously enveloping, there has been some care taken to place Foley effects across the surround channels, such as the "whispers" during the opening credits, during thunderstorms (around 25:52-26:13), leaves rusting around 50 minutes into the film and the wind around 73 minutes into the film. In addition, some of the background music is clearly mixed into the surround channels as well (particularly at the end of the film).

   The subwoofer is occasionally used to good effect, such as during thunderstorm scenes, and for various other Foley effects.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The only extra is a trailer.

Menu

    16x9 enhanced but static, preceded by an intro.

Dolby Digital Trailer-Egypt (0:33)

    Automatically played before the film.

Theatrical Trailer (2:21)

    This is presented in 1.85:1 (16x9 enhanced) and with Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s) audio. The transfer for this appears a bit soft.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This title has yet to be released in Region 1.

Summary

    Unconditional Love is a quirky comedy featuring lots of songs sung by the cast (though it is not quite a musical).

    The video transfer is good.

    The audio transfer is good.

     The only extra is a theatrical trailer.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Tuesday, July 08, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-2900, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)
SpeakersFront and surrounds: B&W CDM7NT, front centre: B&W CDMCNT, surround backs: B&W DM601S2, subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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