A Difficult Woman (1998)

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Released 17-Oct-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1998
Running Time 195:16 (Case: 198)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (126:15) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Tony Tilse

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Caroline Goodall
Peter Feeney
Martin Jacobs
Nicholas Eadie
Victoria Longley
Jim Moriarty
Bill Hunter
Anna Lise Phillips
Sarah Kants
Ellen Cressey
Rosey Jones
Tara Morice
Bille Brown
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Stephen Rae

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (96Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.29:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.29:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Back in 1998 when Australian television used to produce quality drama series with surprising regularity, a mini-series was shown on the ABC called A Difficult Woman. That series has now been locally released on DVD by Umbrella as part of their Aussie DVD collection.

    This series is a murder thriller, combined with some good second level plots about medical research ethics, politics, French imperialism in the Pacific, sexual harassment and marital infidelity. The story focuses on Anne Harriman (Caroline Goodall), a brilliant pathologist who has left the police force to pursue a career with a large foreign pharmaceutical company, although still based in Sydney. She is the difficult woman referred to in the title as she can be quite b****y and very determined. She is conducting research on genetics and has made a breakthrough in the area of fertility and childhood diseases which she wishes to spend more time on. The company wants her to focus on developing a drug to make menopause come later in middle aged women, thus increasing their fertility. At the same time, she is spending two weeks relieving as a pathologist for the police which she must do to retain her licence. While she is doing so, young women start getting attacked in and around the campus of Sydney University culminating in a murder. While she is investigating this murder, an old friend with whom she has fallen out, Giselle McKenzie (Victoria Longley) arrives in Sydney for a speaking tour. She is also a campaigner against the way the French have treated the South Pacific. When Giselle is also found dead in a similar way to the other girl, the investigation becomes personal for Anne. She becomes extremely determined to solve the crime, despite the investigating officer, Sgt Dave Gutteridge (Peter Feeney) not wanting her help and her employer becoming more and more annoyed with her absences. Other important characters include Paul Scanlon (Bill Hunter), the Minister of Trade and Foreign Affairs, Tom Ferrars (Martin Jacobs), a married man who Anne is having an affair with and Peter MacFarlane (Nicholas Eadie), a university lecturer accused of sexual harassment.

    This series was released as a movie, cut to 99 minutes, in the US, however this DVD includes the full 200 minutes. In this form it is a compelling and interesting thriller with many plot strands which makes it more interesting. The acting is universally strong from a quality Australian cast. Watch out for Tara Morice in a small role early in her career. The director is Australian television stalwart Tony Tilse who has directed everything from Police Rescue to his latest project, Headland.

    In short, a quality Australian television thriller from 1998.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is good but not without some issues.

    The feature is presented in a 1.29:1 aspect ratio non 16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was quite clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. Shadow detail was reasonable but some scenes were a little murky. There was light grain throughout with some sections being a little heavier.

    The colour was generally fine although I did notice some chroma noise in backgrounds.

    Artefacts included some regular aliasing such as at 7:30 on the cords, 33:57 on Venetians, 39:48 on a table and many other instances. Moire was also seen at 10:08. Jagged edges were also common and there were a few white specks here and there.

    There are no subtitles.

    The layer change occurs at 126:15 and was not noticeable.

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


    The audio quality is good despite a very low bitrate.

    This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 96 Kb/s, which is half the standard bitrate for a 2 channel track.

    Dialogue was mostly clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync.

    The music used by Stephen Rae was some very moody jazzy trumpet and sax which I found enjoyable and evocative.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use




    The menu was very simple, allowing for scene selection only.

R4 vs R1

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

    This series has been released as a 99 minute movie in Region 1, so I would definitely go for the full series as included here which runs for nearly 200 minutes.


    A quality Australian television thriller produced for the ABC in 1998.

    The video quality is good.

    The audio quality is good despite a very low bitrate.

    The disc has no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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