True Colors (1991)

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Released 8-Sep-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1991
Running Time 105:37
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (65:03) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Herbert Ross

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring John Cusack
James Spader
Imogen Stubbs
Mandy Patinkin
Richard Widmark
Case ?
RPI $24.95 Music Trevor Jones

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
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

    Sometimes it's good to be pleasantly surprised, and this film is an example. After reading a few "less than positive" reviews of this film (which I never saw in the cinemas), I wasn't expecting much, except perhaps for a chance to oogle at John Cusack and James Spader, two actors who are very easy on the eyes.

    Instead, I found an intelligent, well-crafted, tightly-written and well-acted film that serves as a morality fable for modern times.

    Peter Burton (John Cusack) and Tim Gerrity (James Spader) come from different backgrounds. Peter is ethnic, poor, and comes from a dysfunctional family, but possesses a burning ambition to succeed at all costs. Tim, on the other hand, is a WASP born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and is more concerned about justice and doing the right thing.

    They meet each other in law school through a car accident that results in them fighting. Later they find out they are supposed to be roommates, and end up being best friends.

    At the start of the film, Peter comes across as a likable young man, though possessing somewhat suspect morals. He lies his way into Tim's New Years Day party just to meet influential people, and Tim later finds out he has Anglicised his surname in order to be better accepted by his peers and future employers. He will happily slash a car tyre just to give him an excuse to open a conversation with a senator.

    Tim, on the other hand, starts off with everything he could possibly want: money, looks, brains, a beautiful fiancée ... However, he seems to lack the burning drive that Peter has. Soon, we find that his girlfriend Diana (Imogen Stubbs) dumps him for being under-ambitious. Of course, Diana just happens to be the daughter of the powerful Senator Stiles (Richard Widmark), whom Peter is working for. Next thing you know, Peter has fallen in love with Diana, and begs Tim for forgiveness right after breaking his leg in a skiing accident.

    And that's what makes Peter likable. No matter how many "shady" things he does, operating under the philosophy of "Don't Get Caught!", when Peter is caught, he is not afraid to admit his wrongdoing and make his friends forgive him.

    Peter has a burning ambition to become a powerful political figure, and eventually seeks election as a congressman. With his propensity for bending the rules, Peter soon gets corrupted. Next thing we know he is blackmailing Senator Stiles for support, consorting with unscrupulous property developers, and doesn't even mind setting his best friend Tim for a fall.

    What happens when Tim finds out he's been sold out by Peter? How will that affect their friendship? The rest of the film is an interesting story about whether Tim is truly after justice ... or revenge, and whether Peter deserves what's coming to him.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    We are presented with a rather soft widescreen 16x9 transfer. The aspect ratio is 1.78:1, which is pretty close to the intended aspect ratio of 1.85:1.

    Detail levels are okay, although the overall look of the transfer is somewhat soft due to the age of the film. Colours are acceptable, though slightly faded.

    Given the short length of this film, which is spread over two layers, I did not expect to find significant compression artefacts and true enough they weren't there.

    The film is also a bit on the grainy side, though not to the level of annoyance.

    There is a plethora of subtitle tracks available: English, Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Serbian, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, and English for the Hearing Impaired. I turned on both English and English For The Hearing Impaired subtitle tracks briefly. They appear identical apart from additional descriptions of Foley effects in the latter. Dialogue transcription accuracy seems to be about average.

    This is a single sided dual layered disc (RSDL). The layer change occurs at the end of Chapter 9 around 65:03 during a scene change, so should be unnoticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are several audio tracks available: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s), German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s), Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s), and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).

    Given that the film soundtrack must have been originally encoded in Dolby Stereo, and therefore the Dolby Digital 5.1 track has been remixed, I did not expect a lot of surround activity. Therefore, I was surprised to find quite significant surround channel usage, though it's mainly used for background music.

    However, I did notice a thunderclap being directed towards the rear channels around 15:08. The subwoofer is lightly used.

    Dialogue was reasonably clear throughout and there were no issues with audio synchronization.

    The original music score is by Trevor Jones and sounds like vaguely synth-laced jazz-inspired instrumentals.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are no extras on this disc.


    The menus are 16x9 enhanced, static, and available in several languages.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:

    Both versions are similar apart from foreign language content.


    True Colors is a surprisingly watchable film about two college friends. One of them has a burning ambition to succeed in politics, and is willing to do just about anything, including betraying his friend, to achieve his goals.

    The video transfer is somewhat soft but okay.

    The audio transfer is acceptable.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Sunday, November 02, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDCustom HTPC (Asus A7N266-VM, Athlon XP 2400+, 512MB, LiteOn LTD-165S, WinXP, WinDVD5 Platinum), using RGB output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum/AVIA. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
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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