Love's Brother: Special Edition (2004)

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Released 8-Dec-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romantic Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Jan Sardi (Writer/Director)
Featurette-Making Of-From Script To Screen
Featurette-From Script To Screen - CGI Sequence
Storyboard Comparisons-Storyboard To Film Sequence Comparison WithJan Sardi
Interviews-Cast
Featurette-Documentary: Three In A Million - The Italian Sequence 1959
Featurette-ABC Documentary 2004: Real Proxy Brides
Theatrical Trailer
Gallery-Photo
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Trailer-To Be And To Have
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 98:53 (Case: 103)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (91:09) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jan Sardi
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Giovanni Ribisi
Adam Garcia
Amelia Warner
Silvia De Santis
Eleanor Bron
John Bluthal
Joe Petruzzi
Dina Panozzo
Barry Otto
Case ?
RPI ? Music Stephen Warbeck


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    This film continues to rate highly in my collection after many viewings, and I dare say it will for a while. The rental version of Love's Brother was void of bonus material and I'm happy to report that this new retail version has plenty of extras that are worth checking out. I've reproduced the plot summary from my review of the rental version below. If you're already familiar with this film you may care to skip straight to the next section of the review.

    Love's Brother is in essence a romantic and beautifully structured snapshot of a not-too-distant part of Australia's history. Set in Victoria in the 1950s, the film deals with a small community of humble Italian migrants and their turbulent efforts to settle in Australia. In this time arranged marriages were commonplace and often the easiest option when in the market for a partner. The procedure for finding an Italian wife in the 50s was very simple, and conducted by mail. A woman in Australia would be in charge of allocating or arranging contacts, and the appropriate male would first acquire a photo of the available lady and send her a letter, enclosing a picture of himself. If successful, the two would wed in separate ceremonies, oceans apart, and unite at another later date when the ship sailed for Australia.

    The tale begins as the Italian community welcomes the first espresso machine in Australia, a major event because the elder members of the Italian community have been without a decent cuppa for years. The beautiful chrome machine is blessed by the local priest and all rejoice, but not Angelo Domini (Giovanni Ribisi). After four years in Australia and countless letters and photos, he is losing all hope of ever finding a bride. His brother Gino (Adam Garcia) on the other hand is involved with a local girl, Concetta, and is delaying his desire to wed for fear of disrespecting his elder brother. Concetta (Silvia De Santis) is generally indecisive and prefers to go by the Aussie name Connie, trying to fit in by bleaching her hair. In a last ditch effort to find a wife, Angelo is given the photo of  Rosetta (Amelia Warner), a stunningly beautiful girl born of a poor Italian family. He reluctantly sends off a letter - only this time he deliberately encloses the photo of his brother Gino in the hope of gaining a positive response. Rosetta instantly falls in love with the photo and responds with a wholehearted yes, much to Angelo's bewilderment. Vows are exchanged in a whirlwind and arrangements are made for the transition, as Rosetta jumps on the next ship to Australia. Rosetta is a firm believer in the romantic ideal of destiny and she married Angelo by name, but has an image of Gino in her head. Who will meet her at the wharf? Somebody has a lot of explaining to do!

    I had the opportunity to experience the film a few months ago at a local film festival. Director Jan Sardi was in attendance to field questions from the audience, along with Producer Jane Scott. Most questions I recall revolved around their previous work on Shine and his decision to have the cast speak English, rather than Italian. Jan explained that while he was aiming at a certain degree of authenticity, he wasn't trying to make a film with extreme detail like Passion of the Christ. In this case he made a conscious decision to use English dialogue in order to make the film more accessible, and I believe he made a good decision. Had it been filmed with Italian dialogue, it would have drawn attention away from some of the dramatic aspects and it may have even been easy to forget the Australian setting.

    Giovanni Ribisi provides the superb cornerstone performance here as the fidgeting and nervous Angelo, and Amelia Warner is simply gorgeous as the perpetually stunned Rosetta. Australian musician and artist Reg Mombassa appears intermittently as a quiet gypsy painter, and gains the final say in the film.

    I find this film to be a fine piece of escapism. It's simple, well made and heart warming - and there's nothing wrong with that. So, grab your favourite Italian beverage, be it coffee or a glass of wine, sit back and enjoy this little gem.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This video transfer is presented in the film's original theatrical aspect of 1.85:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement.

    The level of sharpness is acceptable in this transfer, although it does appear a little soft in places. Judjing by the choice of film stock and the comments made in the featurettes and commentary it appears that this effect is an intentional artistic decision, made to give the film a fairytale quality. There is a slight amount of film grain present now and then, but this is consistent with the print I viewed theatrically. Shadow detail and black levels are relatively true and consistent. There was no low level noise evident in the transfer.

    Most colours are pale and pastel-like, with little vibrancy. I would guess that this was intentional, to give the film a slightly dated appearance. Skin tones came across a little orangish a times, but this wasn't a major problem.

    I noted a couple of very minor specks of dust, originating from the source print. As a whole, this transfer is very clean and almost artefact free. The variable bitrate for this video transfer is slightly higher than the rental version and there are certainly no MPEG compression issues to speak of.

    This disc doesn't contain any subtitle streams.

    The disc is dual layered (DVD9 format), with the layer transition placed near the end of the feature at 91:09. The pause is barely noticeable and certainly not disruptive to the flow of the film.

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

Audio

    There are two soundtracks accompanying the feature, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 stream encoded at 448Kb/s and a commentary by Director Jan Sardi. Being a dialogue driven film, there are no surprises here. The same effect could easily have been achieved with a stereo Dolby Surround encoded mix.

    The English dialogue is heavily accented in places, but always comes across clearly and succinctly. The ADR is seamless and unrecognisable. Audio sync is perfect.

    This is a relatively frontal soundtrack, with minimal surround activity to be heard. To be honest, the film hardly calls for a full surround workout, so the lack of activity isn't missed that much. The film's score spills to the rear channels on a number of occasions and creates a subtly enveloping feel. There's a great example of frontal panning at 27:02 as a loud jet of steam passes from left to right.

    The film's music can only be described as orchestral and romantic, with many recognisable European touches. This film's score was composed by Steven Warbeck, who also contributed the music to Shakespeare In Love. The score serves the film immeasurably, guiding the viewer through the many emotional highs and lows with great efficiency.

    The subwoofer wasn't called upon to any noticeable degree, which is hardly surprising.

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

Extras

Menu

    The main menu page is animated with images from the film and backed by a piece of the film's score. All the menu pages are 16x9 enhanced.

Feature Commentary-Writer and Director Jan Sardi

    Jan is an excellent talker and discusses everything, from his life growing up in Melbourne to his lengthy development of the story. Some time was spent researching real proxy marriages, and a few of the stories from that research made their way into the script. A bit of the information found here is repeated in the other featurettes, however this is certainly one commentary that is worth sitting through.

Featurette-'From Script to Screen' - The Making of Love's Brother (17:49)

    Producer Jane Scott and Director Jan Sardi discuss their previous work together on Shine and Jan's decision to take on the directorial role. We get to see some revealing footage taken on the set and during rehearsals, followed by a brief dissection of the dream-like cinematography and the decision to use Fuji film stock for its warm colour palate. An amazing amount of detail and thought into what on the outside seems like a very simple tale, and this making of helped me appreciate the film even more. This featurette is presented in 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

Featurette-'From Script to Screen' - CGI Sequence (6:27)

    The first few minutes of this featurette serve as a fly-on-the-wall perspective of the early production meetings, discussing the storyboard concepts and use of CGI. Some split screen shots are present, showing before and after images of the CGI rendering. I found it interesting that some of the shots that used computer generated graphics looked completely natural to me on my first viewing of the film. This featurette is presented in 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

Featurette-'From Script to Screen' - Story Board to Film Sequence Comparison with Jan Sardi (8:17)

    Jan Sardi gives a commentary over a split screen of storyboards, married with the corresponding scene from the film. This featurette is presented in 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

Cast Interviews (11:14)

    A surprisingly shy and softly spoken Giovanni Ribisi shares his respect for Jan Sardi and his love of the script, while Amelia Warner expresses her love of the romantic story and discusses her character. Adam Garcia expresses his thoughts on the story and Silvia De Santis explains in her broad Italian accent that she had to reduce her Italian voice while other actors were training to take on an accent. This featurette is presented in 1.33:1, full frame.

Featurette-'Three In A Million' - The Italian Sequence Documentary 1959 (18:00)

    This heavily damaged archive film looks at immigrants and their experiences when starting a new life in Australia. As a whole it relates to the film amazingly well, but is very dated and poorly acted, although it is mildly interesting to see the difficulties new Australians faced back in the 1950s. This featurette is presented in 1.33:1, full frame.

Featurette-ABC documentary 2004 - Real Proxy Brides (4:55)

    This short item looks at post World War II proxy marriages and the difficulties involved. We also meet an elderly couple whose proxy marriage 52 years ago is still going strong. This featurette is presented in 1.33:1, full frame.

Biographies (9)

    There are a couple of brief pages of text for six of the cast members and three of the filmmakers. Some interesting info, but nothing too in-depth.

Photo Gallery

    Fourteen full screen stills, most are from the film itself while a couple of others were taken during production.

Theatrical Trailer (2:46)

    This is a fairly standard trailer, outlining the plot of the film. There's some irritating telecine wobble present here, and the 1.85:1 video transfer isn't 16x9 enhanced.

Trailer

    A bonus trailer is included for Nicolas Philibert's To Be and to Have (Etre et avoir).

R4 vs R1

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

    This disc is only available in Region 4 at the moment.

Summary

    Love's Brother is a romantic and endearing tale from a not too distant period in Australia's history. All of the performances are excellent, particularly Giovanni Ribisi, and the direction by Jan Sardi is smooth. It's great to see the film receive a decent retail release in Region 4.

    The video transfer is quite good.

    The audio transfer is lightly enveloping at times and provides a good frontal presence.

    The abundant extras make this retail release a very worthwhile purchase.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Friday, November 05, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-525, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX76PW10A 76cm Widescreen 100Hz. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

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