Soft Fruit (1999)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 14-Mar-2005

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Director
Gallery-Photo
Featurette-'Spoof' Making Of...
Short Film-3
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 97:53
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Christina Andreef
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Jeanie Drynan
Linal Haft
Russell Dykstra
Geneviève Lemon
Sacha Horler
Alicia Talbot
Dion Bilios
Gezelle Byrnes
Jordan Frankland
Cheyenne Dobbs
Marin Mimica
Glenn Butcher
Terry Weaver
Case ?
RPI $24.95 Music Anthony Partos


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 English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

   Soft Fruit is the first feature film from writer/director Christina Andreef. Her previous work consisted of three short films (all of which are presented on this DVD), and as an assistant to the director on Crush (1992) and Jane Campion's The Piano in 1994. Jane Campion is mentioned quite often in the thank you credits of the short films, and is an Executive Producer on Soft Fruit.

   Patsy (Jeanie Drynan) has terminal cancer in its final stages. She has requested a reunion of all of her now adult children together at the family home, something which hasn't happened in eight years. Although this is certain to cause unrest, due to their fiercely competitive natures, the idea is embraced by all.

   Josie (Genevieve Lemon) and her two children have flown back from their home in the U.S. Nadia (Sacha Horler) is recently divorced. She also arrives with her young children. Patsy's youngest daughter, Vera (Alicia Talbot), is an unmarried nurse, who dreams of marriage and children. Vera has dedicated herself to the task of attending to her mother's medical needs. And finally, Patsy's only son, Bo (Russell Dykstra), arrives after a brief stint in prison. Despite his rough exterior and minor drug habit, Bo has a heart of gold.

   Husband and father Vic (Linal Haft) has a very stubborn and cantankerous nature. He also has long-standing issues with Bo and refuses to let him stay inside the house. Bo takes up residence in the garden shed, and does his best to avoid confrontation with his father.

   Bo brings a gift for Patsy, a biography of her heroine, Jackie Kennedy Onassis. He regularly reads her passages from the book, as he and the others set about fulfilling their mother's last wishes. Apart from the family reunion, Patsy wants to revisit a certain beach she remembers from years ago. She also wants to see Vera get married, visit Paris, and receive a twenty one gun salute.

   My first viewing of Soft Fruit was at the AFI Award Judging Screenings in 1999. I remember the very positive reaction to the film - it received seven nominations and won two awards in that year's AFI Awards, the awards being Best Actor for Russell Dykstra and Best Supporting Actress for Sacha Horler.

   Casting is very rarely mentioned in reviews, but is deserving of a mention here. Not only are the actors more than capable of giving excellent performances in their roles, but they all actually look like a family. This was a very important issue for this film to work as well as it does.

   Christina Andreef has created a wonderfully moving film using a balance of humour and the celebration of life, rather than the sorrow of an impending death. Soft Fruit remains a very positive and upbeat film, cleverly avoiding the mawkish mess that spoils many other films with similar plot lines.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

   It seems a lot of effort has gone into the presentation of the film on DVD. The video transfer is extremely impressive.

   The presented aspect ratio of the transfer is 1.85:1, and it is 16x9 enhanced. This is the film's correct aspect ratio.

   The transfer is remarkably sharp and clear throughout. Blacks were very clean, with no evidence of low level noise. Shadows held and displayed excellent detail.

   Colours were beautifully rendered, with no signs of oversaturation. Skin tones were equally impressive.

   I found no MPEG artefacts. Aliasing and edge enhancement were very well controlled. In fact, I had trouble finding any film-to-video artefacts. One very minor aliasing problem occurs in some blinds at 93:45 - this is basically the only thing to mention in an otherwise outstanding video transfer. I did occasionally notice some minor film artefacts, however these were also of no great consequence.

   The only subtitles available are English for the Hearing Impaired. They are easy to read and very accurate.

   This is a single sided, dual layered disc. The layer change is perfectly placed at 75:38. I actually needed to use software to find the change.

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

Audio

   The audio transfer is also very impressive.

   There are two audio tracks on this DVD. The default track is English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s). There is also an English audio commentary track, with Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s) audio. Both tracks are of outstanding quality.

    The dialogue was crystal clear throughout. The only hitch in the audio occurs at 25:19 when an audible click can be heard. Of course, this was of a very minor nature and didn't cause me much bother. There were no audio sync problems evident.

   The music score by Antony Partos is perfectly suited to the film. It combines a variety of different styles and many shifts in mood. It follows the film's celebration of life in an upbeat way.

    The surrounds are used in a subtle yet noticeable manner for ambience. They are also used to stunning effect with music. The film doesn't really call for the use of precise directional effects, so the mix overall is quite subtle.

   The subwoofer was, surprisingly, quite active. Both music and general bass effects in the film were given subtle highlights on a frequent basis. An example of the subwoofer highlighting a general bass effect in the film occurs at 42:07.

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

Extras

   An excellent selection of extras are included on this DVD.

Menu

   The main menu is quite outstanding. It is themed beautifully, featuring animated clips and music from the film, and is 16x9 enhanced. All the menus have similar features and are presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s).

Director's Commentary - Christina Andreef (Director)

   The commentary has frequent pauses, but is very informative and relevant.

Featurette - "Spoof"  Making of... (20:55)

   Filmed using video cameras during production of the film, this humorous piece features role reversals of cast and crew. We see crew members playing various scenes from the film and actors playing the roles of various crew members. It certainly appears to have been a fun film to work on, judging by this little offering. It is presented with Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s) audio.

Short films from the same team

   These are the three short films made prior to Soft Fruit. All are written and directed by Christina Andreef and produced by Helen Bowden. All are presented with Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s) audio.

Excursion to the Bridge of Friendship  (12:24)

   Maria receives a letter from a traditional singer in Bulgaria, requesting Maria sponsor her on a trip to Australia. The singer has visions of making it big in Australia, with Maria's help, of course. (Black and White) 1992.

Shooting the Breeze (7:57)

   My personal favourite of the three. Noel finds that it's not easy to get girlfriend, Greta, "in the mood", when so much is going on around the apartment block. 1996.

The Gap (18:41)

  Walter is ready to end it all by jumping from The Gap. Joseph and Margaret keep vigil with Walter in an effort to talk him down. This film contains a strange mix of spoken and sung dialogue. (Black and White) 1994.

Image Gallery 

   A collection of 19 still images from the film.

R4 vs R1

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

    At the time of this review, there is no R1 version of Soft Fruit available.

Summary

   Soft Fruit is a moving, uplifting, and honest film that avoids over-the-top sentimentality. Highly recommended.

   The video and audio transfers are superb.

   The extras are excellent and enhance the overall presentation of the DVD.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDJVC XV-N412, using Component output
DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE