Tom White (2004)

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Trailer-The Return, My Life Without Me, Japanese Story
Trailer-Since Otah Left
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 102:26
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Alkinos Tsilimidos

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Colin Friels
Rachael Blake
Case ?
RPI Rental Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/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

    There has been a lot of talk of the dearth of decent home-grown movies recently. Tom White is a film that reaffirms my faith in Australia's ability to generate solid, good quality work in the cinema.

    Tom White stars Colin Friels as the titular character. He is a fifty-something draughtsman working in a Melbourne architect's firm. His life is close to idyllic, living in a classy new suburb, in a classy house, with a classy wife and 2 clean-cut kids. His only problem appears to be his all-consuming job - in particular the volume of work required to complete the Clearwater Springs housing project.

    We begin to suspect all is not quite as idyllic as it seems when we see Tom talking to his bird feeder. Shortly after, when he is called to his boss' office and told to take a break - his mind is not on the job - the signs are even worse. It becomes apparent that Tom was removed from the Clearwater project over three weeks ago...

    Forced to take an indeterminate period of leave, to "freshen up and get things back in perspective", Tom's life rapidly spirals out of control. Instead of returning home, Tom pays a visit to the local pub where he becomes abusive to his colleagues. Then it's on to the site office at Clearwater Springs, where he threatens the site manager with bodily harm, before Tom sits vacantly on the banks of the river, clearly lost within himself. The remainder of the film charts Tom's lonely journey through the seedier side of Melbourne. Dismissing his old life and family out of hand, Tom begins mixing with drug addicts, prostitutes and the homeless of Melbourne. Those he comes across include Bill Hunter (The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert) and Dan Spielman (One Perfect Day), both of whom will be very familiar to Australian audiences - and both of whom deliver a great performance. As the days pass into weeks, his wife and family seem like a distant memory, and Tom settles into his new life as a homeless man...

    Tom White has been very nicely shot by Toby Oliver (Looking for Alibrandi). The use of extreme close-ups helps to heighten the state of slightly altered reality in which Tom finds himself. In addition, the images of the dark underbelly of Melbourne present an insight into a world which would be invisible to most of us. Director Alkinos Tsimilidos keeps the film interesting at all times, although I did wish that we had been able to see rather more of Tom's family - they appear very rarely, and I am sure their story of coping with the uncertainty of Tom's whereabouts could have formed an interesting sub-plot. This is not a fun film, but Friels' bravura performance makes it a must-see for fans of modern Australian cinema. Recommended.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality of this transfer is very good.

    The video is presented 16x9 enhanced at 1.85:1. This is the original theatrical aspect ratio. It is satisfyingly sharp throughout, and comes across as a very nice transfer - as indeed a film of this very recent vintage should. There is no grain present, and I suspect that it was actually shot on HD videotape.

    There are plenty of dark scenes through the film, with Tom spending much of his time in the shadows and tumbledown shacks frequented by his new comrades. Fortunately, the black levels are inky deep and solid with no sign of low level noise. Shadow detail is very good throughout, with a satisfying level of detail evident throughout. Colours are fresh and solid with no signs of colour bleeding. Skin tones look pretty natural throughout.

    I noticed no significant MPEG artefacts and there is nothing really significant in the way of grain or pixelization. There was no appreciable edge enhancement evident, despite the pleasingly sharp transfer. Aliasing was not noticeable on my (progressive scan) system.

    Film artefacts are virtually absent from this clean transfer.

    There are unfortunately no subtitles available.

    The disc is single sided and single layered (DVD 5) so there is no layer change to disrupt proceedings.

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


    The overall audio transfer is technically fine, although unremarkable.

    The sole audio track is presented in English Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 448 kbps. It is free from noticeable audio defects such as hiss, clicks or pops. Dialogue is always clear and audio sync was never a problem.

    Whilst the musical score is uncredited per se, the title song recurs through the film and it is a wonderfully melancholy number (Meet me in the Middle of the Air), written and performed by the always excellent Paul Kelly (and also later a cappella by Linda Bull). It helps to build an air of isolation, which mirrors Tom's lonely journey.

    The overall audio stage is often very frontal in nature, which is unsurprising given the dramatic tone of the film. The front speakers give a decent stereo spread, whilst the centre channel does a solid enough job of projecting the dialogue. The surround channels do see some occasional use, but are generally restricted to minor ambient effects (traffic, crickets and crowd noises) and supporting the musical score. A stereo track would suffice just as well to be honest.

    The subwoofer was used to support the musical score, but there is really nothing substantial in the way of LFE.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are a couple of minor extras on offer:


    The main menu is a nicely animated shot of Tom accompanied by a very brief loop of the theme song. It allows the simple choices of playing the movie, choosing from a minimal sixteen chapter stops, or viewing the following extras:


    Ten biographies for the main cast and crew. Each is pretty much a single page of green text, presented silently and against a 16x9 enhanced photographic backdrop. They are reasonably informative given the limited space devoted to each.

Theatrical Trailer

    Running for 2:11 and presented 16x9 enhanced at 1.78:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track encoded at 224 kbps.

Photo Gallery

    Fourteen pointless photographs from the set. Gee I hate these things!

More from Palace Films

    Trailers for other releases by Palace. Presented letterboxed (not 16x9 enhanced) with a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track encoded at 224 kbps:

R4 vs R1

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

    This film does not appear to be available on DVD in any other region as yet.


    Tom White is a mature Australian film charting the descent into homelessness of a Melbourne draughtsman. Following a nervous breakdown, Tom White (Colin Friels) deserts his job, home and family to travel the dark underbelly of Melbourne. Befriending prostitutes, junkies and the homeless we follow him on his journey through a side of life that most us us are lucky enough never to see. Recommended for fans of modern Australian cinema.

    The video quality is good.

    The audio transfer is technically fine, though unremarkable.

    Extras are minimal.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDMomitsu V880 upconverting DVI player, using DVI output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

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