Plenty (1985)

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Released 2-Aug-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1985
Running Time 118:00 (Case: 179)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Fred Schepisi
Studio
Distributor
RKO
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Meryl Streep
Charles Dance
Tracey Ullman
John Gielgud
Sting
Ian McKellen
Sam Neill
Burt Kwouk
André Maranne
Pik Sen Lim
Ian Wallace
Tristram Jellinek
Peter Forbes-Robertson
Case ?
RPI $9.95 Music Bruce Smeaton


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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 None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Few would deny that Meryl Streep is one of the most formidable film actresses of her, or in fact any, generation. Since the first of her two acting gongs at the Academy Awards in 1979 for her work in acclaimed director Robert Benton's Best Picture winner Kramer v Kramer, Streep has amassed a staggering thirteen acting nominations - 10 for a leading role and three for supporting. Her Oscar as an Actress in a Leading Role came in 1982 when she perfected one of her many foreign accents to play Sophie, the Polish immigrant with a haunted past in Alan J. Pakula's Sophie's Choice. Danish, Australian (playing Lindy Chamberlain) and English accents followed, along with a succession of dowdy costumes, before the early nineties when at last audiences were again able to hear Streep speaking in something approaching her natural accent. The English accent did not earn her an acting nod but the character she built around it is arguably one of her greatest achievements. I am speaking of her portrayal of Susan Traherne, one of the most unsympathetic characters the cinema has given us.

    Susan is the central figure in Plenty, an ambiguous and thoughtful film that derives much of its strength from its refusal to define its characters in traditional good and evil, moral and immoral terms. She is an operative working in France during the Nazi occupation in the years of World War Two. In the opening moments of the film we witness a man parachute from the sky and take refuge with a group of French resistance fighters, with whom Susan is stationed, all trying desperately to keep the Germans at bay - away from the front. Susan is cold and condescending towards this newly arrived young man (Sam Neill) which we soon learn she can ill afford to be. As the film progresses we grow to dislike this woman, though never entirely. We feel sorry for her, and frustrated by the contradictions she embodies. She berates the middle class of England for their lack of vision and their sedentary lives, yet she embodies those very qualities. It is perhaps inevitable that the Academy overlooked this performance as Streep so successfully and courageously keeps our sympathies at bay.

    The movie was written by David Hare, the acclaimed playwright who adapted Michael Cunningham's The Hours to the screen and was directed with taste and a sense of the complexities the story embodies by Australian Fred Schepisi. The acting talent on show, apart from Steep and Neill, is remarkable. The film maintains a theatrical feel with the 'entrances' and 'exits' of key players, who include the likes of John Gielgud, Ian McKellen and String. I should warn those wary of slow moving films that this is certainly one that requires patience. The lack of a likeable protagonist will also I feel be offputting to many. However, fans of Streep shouldn't hesitate to investigate this introspective, intelligent film.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented at its originally intended aspect ratio of 2.35:1, with 16x9 enhancement.

    This is a perfectly acceptable transfer of a film now approaching the end of its second decade. Shot on location in Europe with, as I understand, a fairly limited budget, it would be unreasonable to expect the kind of transfer afforded better known films of similar age like Amadeus.

    Sharpness levels are reasonable, although everything does look a little soft. Shadow detail is fair. The film occasionally looks a little too grainy for my liking but it is never too much of a worry.

    Colours are a little muted, but this is a film set in wartime so garish tones are probably inappropriate. Skin tones are reasonable well rendered.

    There are some occasional moments when film artefacts become a distraction, but this is a relatively clean print.

    Film to video artefacts are something more of a problem, with some intermittent aliasing. There appears to be some light drag every now and again which, coupled with the sometimes grainy transfer, creates a hazy, indistinct look.

    A decent if unspectacular transfer then - one that you couldn't reasonably expect to be much better.

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

Audio

    The audio is equally unremarkable.

    Dialogue is clear but I guarantee that most will have some trouble with Streep's accent for the first ten minutes or so. Audio sync is commendable.

    There were no obvious drop-outs but the sound is a little thin and fuzzy for my liking.

    The surrounds are quiet throughout in this English 2.0 track, and the subwoofer - you wouldn't know you had one. This is a theatrical piece however, so dialogue is the driving force, and that is well presented.

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

Extras

    There are no extras.

R4 vs R1

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

    This title is identical to that released in the U.S. so the local product, being significantly cheaper, is the one to go for.

Summary

    An interesting film with a fantastic performance from Streep, unlike any work she's done.

    The video quality is perfectly acceptable.

    The audio is also reasonable.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Scott Murray (Dont read my bio - it's terrible.)
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDYamaha DVR-S100, using Component output
DisplaySony 76cm Widescreen Trinitron TV. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationYamaha DVR-S100 (built in)
SpeakersYamaha NX-S100S 5 speakers, Yamaha SW-S100 160W subwoofer

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