Sweet Dreams (1985)

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Released 8-Mar-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1985
Running Time 110:19 (Case: 115)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (61:26) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Karel Reisz
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Jessica Lange
Ed Harris
Ann Wedgeworth
David Clennon
James Staley
Gary Basaraba
John Goodman
P.J. Soles
Terri Gardner
Caitlin Kelch
Robert L. Dasch
Courtney Parker
Coulton Edwards
Case ?
RPI $14.95 Music Charles Gross


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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 None Smoking Yes, Lots of it - and around babies, too!
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Patsy and Charlie, dancing together.

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

Plot Synopsis

    American country-and-western singer Patsy Cline had a brief but glittering career at the top of the charts in the late fifties and early sixties, until her tragic but fame-ensuring death in a plane crash. Sweet Dreams is the story not only of her rise and demise, but also of her difficult relationship with second husband Charlie Dick. Starting with the night they met at a local dance where Patsy was performing – for $25! – and concluding with Charlie’s reaction to her death, the film links the ups and downs of their romance with Patsy’s music. The fire of their attraction helps propel Patsy into pursuing her talent for singing; in turn, the love ballads she sings come to express Patsy’s conflicting feelings for the wayward Charlie. While not without faults, the resulting film avoids the hackneyed biopic plot of the talented woman done wrong. Rather, it presents a complex woman who loves – and shares – the very qualities of impulsiveness and aggressiveness that cause her so much trouble.

    This genuinely interesting romance is carried on through strong central performances by Jessica Lange and Ed Harris as Patsy and Charlie. Lange in particular is a revelation, bursting with energy and emotion. She has considerable chemistry with Harris, lending a compelling spark to their many bedroom scenes (and back-seat scenes, and kitchen floor scenes…), and also plays well with on-screen mother Ann Wedgworth. Other actors necessarily take a back seat to these two – not even a young John Goodman makes much of an impression. These supporting parts are not poorly played; there’s just very little for them to do, with the focus so closely on the two leads.

    Beyond the romance and the acting, Sweet Dreams boasts a third reason to watch: the music. Unless you’ve irrevocably decided to despise country music, Patsy Cline’s voice will take your breath away. Lange lip-syncs convincingly to expertly integrated recordings of Cline herself singing Crazy, Your Cheatin’ Heart, Sweet Dreams, and more. These classics serve their intended dramatic and biographical function, while also making much of this film sheer pleasure to listen to.

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Transfer Quality

Video

   This is an imperfect transfer, but probably as good as Sweet Dreams will get without restoration and remastering.

   The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, slightly cropped from a theatrical ratio of 1.85:1, and it is 16x9 enhanced.

   The transfer is a little soft throughout, although never distractingly so. Black levels and shadow detail are reasonable, and although most daylight scenes look slightly hazy, this is most likely the source material rather than the transfer.

   Despite the haze, there is no shortage of vibrant and attractive colour, from the rainbow sign at 9:23 to the red theatre at 97:40. The grey ordinariness of the workaday world is vividly contrasted with the bright colours of country showbiz, and of the things that showbiz money can buy.

   This is generally a surprisingly good-looking film, but the transfer is let down a little by slight but constant posterisation – particularly of backgrounds. The resulting flicker is no more distracting than moderate grain is, as long as you don’t concentrate on it. Stick to the film, lest pedantry ruin your evening! Furthermore, this twenty-year-old film has an unsurprising collection of minor film artefacts. Small flecks and dots are common, but not overpowering. The worst is a hair at 120:14, and even this is unlikely to ruin your suspense.

   Sadly, there are no subtitles at all for this film. This is very annoying, especially since they were included on the Region 1 release. How hard could it have been for Universal to stick that stream on our disc?

   This is an RSDL disc, with the layer change perfectly positioned on a blackout between chapters at 61:26.

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

Audio

   Despite being merely stereo, this transfer sounds great.

   All we get is one English Dolby Digital 2.0 track, at 224 Kbps.

   All dialogue and singing is clear and intelligible – and in fact the latter is thoroughly enjoyable to listen to! There is no hiss, and audio sync is no problem even when Jessica Lange is miming to Patsy Cline’s records.

   The recorded music by Cline and others is superb, a well-rendered and essential part of the auditory landscape in this film. The original score, however, is a depressingly mediocre piece of mid-1980s synthesiser hackwork, for which generic composer Charles Gross is responsible. Although the score doesn’t crop up often, it is deeply unworthy of the rest of the soundtrack.

   Obviously, neither the surrounds nor the centre channel had anything to do in this Dolby Digital 2.0 track. Left and right, all the way!

   The subwoofer had no dedicated channel, but received plenty of redirected information to support low frequencies for the left and right channels. This meant that the music sounded terrific, but that incidents like the plane crash at 103:49 lacked the oomph that a generous whack of LFE might have provided.

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

Extras

    There are no extra features.

Menu

    There is only one menu screen, where scene selection is annoyingly implemented as a scroll through 12 unnamed, unnumbered chapters identified only by a still image. Neither quick nor user-friendly!

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;     The only compelling loss here is captioning, which will be important enough for some people to prefer the Region 1 version. Otherwise, the generally identical quality of the transfers, combined with the slight advantage of PAL, and the cost savings of a local disc, outweighs the piffling lost extras and vanishingly small aspect change.

Summary

    Sweet Dreams is worth a look for its well-acted exploration of the compelling romance of a talented songstress.

   The video quality is pretty good for a minor film of its age.

   The audio quality is as good as stereo allows.

   There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tennant Reed
Thursday, July 29, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS730P, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic PT-AE500E projecting onto 100" screen. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR601 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensen SPX-7 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 centre and rear centre, Jensen SPX-4 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

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