The Love Letter (Universal) (1999)

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Released 7-Feb-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Deleted Scenes
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 83:47 (Case: 88)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (54:09) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Peter Ho-Sun Chan
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Kate Capshaw
Blythe Danner
Ellen DeGeneres
Geraldine McEwan
Julianne Nicholson
Tom Everett Scott
Tom Selleck
Gloria Stuart
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $36.95 Music Luis Bacalov


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/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 for the Hearing Impaired
Dutch
Swedish
Norwegian
Danish
Finnish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Contrary to what the trailer may have you believe, The Love Letter is not a romantic comedy, but is really more of a romance/drama. Because I went in with the wrong expectations of the movie, I was a little disappointed with it. I felt that if I had known it wasn't a rom-com before I started watching it, I would have enjoyed it much more.

    The story is mostly told from Helen's (Kate Capshaw's) perspective, and it goes something like this: The seemingly lonely Helen comes across a love letter in her book store, and she starts to wonder who left it for her. Its words invoke such passion in Helen's heart that she allows herself to be seduced by a boy named Johnny (Tom Everett Scott), who works at the book store, thinking the letter was from him.

    Much later on, Janet (Ellen DeGeneres) also accidentally comes across the letter, just after talking to George (Tom Selleck) and she believes that it was from him to her. Janet has been keen on George for quite some time, but Helen immediately tells Janet that the letter was not for her. This causes some friction between these once best friends. Eventually, the writer of the love letter is revealed as is its intended recipient.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video would have been excellent if it weren't for all the grain.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    Foreground detail is excellent, but grain does disrupt it on many occasions. Background detail is pretty good, but also gets disrupted by grain a lot. Any shots that contain blue sky are just riddled with noticeable grain. Unfortunately, the grain isn't restricted to just the sky scenes - it pops up frequently in pretty much any type of scene (indoors, outdoors, light, dark) so there's just no escaping it. Don't get me wrong - this is still a very good transfer, but it is really spoiled by this noticeable grain. There isn't much shadow detail, but the picture still looks natural and balanced. There are several dark scenes, so if you want to get the most out of the picture I would suggest you block out any ambient outside light. No low-level noise, edge enhancement or edge bleeding was noticed.

    The colour is very good. Everything is well-saturated and the skin tones are realistic and natural-looking. I have seen better colour, but there isn't anything to complain about here.

    No definite MPEG artefacts were noticed and there are only a couple of trivial instances of aliasing. At 81:15, a small strange line moves part-way across the screen and then disappears. It is as if the affected area had been mis-aligned. There is a really big film editing blunder at 27:26, where the film appears to jump backwards by 2 seconds and then continue on, as if someone had pressed the repeat button on a two second section of the film. This is very distracting. There is no audio disruption during this jump and the dialogue that is being spoken at the time continues to flow throughout the jump. The video otherwise remains perfectly intact. To me, this indicates that this is a film editing fault and not a transfer fault, but I could be wrong. Another minor fault occurs at 69:22 where either the camera shakes left-to-right or the fault could have been introduced during the telecine transfer stage. Either way it is minor and is a one-off occurrence.

    Film artefacts are extremely rare and small, with only two small ones being noticeable enough to get a mention here; 73:02 and 78:43.

    This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed between Chapters 12 and 13, at 54:09. The layer change is well-placed and is not disruptive to the flow of the movie, even though I had no trouble spotting it.

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

Audio

    There are two 448Kb/s Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks on this DVD; English and German. I listened to the default English soundtrack. It's great to see the use of 448Kb/s audio bitstreams here.

    The dialogue was extremely clear and easy to understand throughout the entire movie. No audio sync problems were noticed. Some low-level hiss was noticed, but it is at a very low level so it never becomes distracting.

    The musical score is by Luis Bacalov.

    There is very little surround channel use, and what is there is extremely subtle. Not once was I actually aware that there was any sound coming from the surround speakers. The soundfield is all up-front, but this is not a totally disastrous thing as this is a completely dialogue-driven movie.

    There is little for the subwoofer to do in this movie as you can imagine, but it does get some nice use at 24:56 for some fireworks.

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

Extras

    The extras are very limited, but they are of very good quality and the content is good.

Menu

    The menus are 16x9 enhanced and are well presented. The main menu has a 192Kb/s Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack as underscoring. The Main Menu selections are; Play, Scene Selections (20), Bonus Material, Audio Languages and Subtitle Languages.

Deleted Scenes (11 - 18:45 minutes)

    These are a must-see, as there are some very interesting scenes that fill out the story just a little more. The quality is very good, but there are a couple of minor artefacts. They are presented in the non-16x9 enhanced aspect ratio of 1.78:1, with a 192Kb/s Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Theatrical Trailer (2:22 minutes)

    The theatrical trailer is of great quality (equal in quality to the movie) and is presented in the 16x9 enhanced aspect ratio of 1.78:1, with a 448Kb/s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

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;


    Easy choice; R4. Reasons: both suffer from grain, but the PAL version has no 3:2 pull-down artefacts and better picture resolution.

Summary

    I was a little disappointed with The Love Letter, but I had the wrong idea of what I was going to see, which never helps.

    Overall the picture quality is good, with only the presence of some rather noticeable grain reducing its rating.

    The audio is of good quality, with no transfer-induced faults. All limitations are from the film's original sound mix, which has little surround use.

    The extras are very limited, but they are of very good quality.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Paul Williams (read Paul's biography)
Monday, February 05, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-725, using Component output
DisplaySony Projector VPH-G70 (No Line Doubler), Technics Da-Lite matt screen with gain of 1.0 (229cm). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SV919THX
SpeakersFronts: Energy RVS-1 (3), Rears: Energy RVSS-1 (2), Subwoofer: Energy EPS-150 (1)

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