The Story of Us (1999)
Audio Commentary-Rob Reiner (Director)
Featurette-Stories Behind Story Of Us
|Year Of Production||1999|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (40:49)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Rob Reiner|
Warner Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
As Rob Reiner says in the documentary, a movie that focusses squarely on the dynamics of such a crisis has never been made before, despite being familiar to us all. Writers Alan Zweibel and Jessie Nelson capture the essential elements of martial conflict, while also flavouring the story and characters with enough individuality to make them interesting. Furthermore, friendly advice/comic relief supplied by the likes of Paul Reiser, Rita Wilson (Mrs Tom Hanks) and Reiner himself lightens a load that gets pretty heavy at times.
Casting A-list actors to play this frustrated every-couple would seem to defeat the whole exercise. I was certainly sceptical. As it happens, their on-screen chemistry, together with the solid dialogue and Rob Reiner's experience as a director, prevents The Story of Us from being an homogenized, movie producer's version of married life. While the plot holds few surprises, the charismatic stars embrace their roles and give genuine, heart-felt performances, although it seems unlikely that even one of their children would have brown eyes, let alone two. Last minute casting switch?
Generally, the sharpness of this transfer was excellent. At times, however, the image appeared soft, particularly on some of Michelle Pfeiffer's close-ups. This may have been the result of poor focus-pulling, rather than a sly attempt to rescue Ms Pfeiffer's vanity, which I must say is in no danger whatsoever. Rob Reiner alludes to the movie's comparatively low budget, indicating a rushed schedule without the luxury of shooting umpteen takes. Whatever the reason, these focal lapses were exceedingly rare.
The other problem concerns a handful of over-exposed shots where the white level was too high. The worst example occurs at 45:54, when Katie and Ben visit their kids at camp: the sunlit ground is a ghastly patch of white. Titanic and The Fifth Element suffered a similar problem. Again, this may be a cinematographic issue here.
Shadow detail was spot on, as was colour saturation. Skin tones were accurate, which is especially important as lots of large, dramatic faces often fill the screen.
Thanks to a pristine source negative, no scratches or dust mar the image, and film grain is fine enough to be ignored. Compression artefacts and aliasing problems are also absent. With the layer change hidden under a fade-to-black at 40:49, there is nothing left to say about this near-perfect transfer.
Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, and German subtitles are not included on the DVD, contrary to what the packaging says.
There is a torrent of dialogue spoken through the centre speaker. In fact, not just spoken, but screamed, growled, whispered, and laughed. All of it is crystal clear, free from distortion, and precisely synchronized.
The sensitive score by Eric Clapton, recruited by Reiner after receiving a copy of the movie on tape, treads delicately around the characters' personal spaces. Clapton's crisply recorded acoustic guitar spins a fine thread across the front soundstage, but the dynamics stop there.
As far as the rest of the soundtrack goes, that's about it. The Story of Us basically sounds as good as it needs to. Your rear speakers and subwoofer probably need the rest after The World Is Not Enough and The 13th Warrior.
Note that the packaging incorrectly promises French and Italian language tracks.
|Surround Channel Use|
Strangely, this supplement starts with a ten-second montage of scenes from the movie in complete silence.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
With a first-class transfer spoilt by two minor problems, a serviceable soundtrack, and three welcome extras, the DVD is at the very least worth hiring, if not purchasing.
|DVD||Marantz DV-7000 (European model), using RGB output|
|Display||Loewe Ergo (81cm). This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital decoder.|
|Amplification||Arcam AV50 5 x 50W amplifier|
|Speakers||Front: ALR/Jordan Entry 5M, Centre: ALR/Jordan 4M, Rear: ALR/Jordan Entry 2M, Subwoofer: B&W ASW-1000 (active)|