Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer
Audio Commentary-ConversationWith Mike Mills(Director)&Walter Kirn (Novelist)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Interviews-Crew-Interview With Writer/Director Mike Mills
DVD-ROM Extras-Director's Blog
Trailer-Lords Of Dogtown, Ringers: Lord Of The Fans, Saving Face
|Year Of Production||2005|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4,5||Directed By||Mike Mills|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Lou Taylor Pucci
Arvin V. Entena
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.0 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
ĎTeenage angstí films used to be fun, memorable and insightful, as writer/director John Hughes had a gift for communicating with adolescent audiences - who can forget Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles. Of course there were others such as Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Say Anything, Heathers and Pump up the Volume but these days being a teenager is surely more tragic, isolate and dangerous as the teenage angst films of the late 90s indicate.
In recent years drug abuse, mental illness and anti social behaviour specifically in adolescence has been explored in Basketball Diaries, American Beauty, Ghost World, Donnie Darko and Igby Goes Down. No longer are the teen characters just annoyed but their whole worlds are skewed and as a result they are vulnerable and their immediate families are no sanctuary as they are just as equally dysfunctional.
Thumbsucker feels like the ultimate culmination of all of these films as the titular character is the troubled outsider who is existent in every Holden Caulfield character before him, except he isnít as admirable - he is needy, nerdy and in some ways pitiable. The Thumbsucker is Justin, played by newcomer Lou Pucci who won the Special Jury prize for acting and the Silver Bear for best actor at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival for this coming of age role. Justin at the age of 17 still sucks his thumb and this behaviour doesnít just affect his confidence but everyone who exists in his middle class suburbia world.
At his parentís request Justin refers to his parents by their first names as they donít want to feel old. Audrey is Justinís mother (Tilda Swinton). She is terribly sympathetic towards her son and their relationship is predominately well grounded - both are dreamers. Justinís father is Mike (Vincent D'Onofrio), a realist who cannot understand his son. Mike is constantly questioning his role as a father. He is unsure of how to approach his son which results in often insensitive and cruel behaviour. Justinís younger foul-mouthed brother Joel is perhaps the only functional member of the household.
Outside of the home Justin is alienated at school but is encouraged by his good-natured teacher Mr. Geary played by Vince Vaughn. Perhaps the most prolific mentor for Justin is his orthodontist Perry Lyman played brilliantly and effortlessly by Keanu Reeves. Justin has a sometimes girlfriend in Rebecca (Kelli Garner) but despite her normal exterior she, like Justin, will prove to be dysfunctional.
Due to Justinís inability to be Ďnormalí he is swiftly diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and prescribed high doses of Ritalin which creates the new and improved Ďnormalí Justin who proves to be even more stranger then the weird vulnerable individual he used to be. Like Justinís transformation, every character in this film will encounter an epiphany and it will prove Justin isnít as alone as he thinks he is.
Nevertheless Thumbsucker isnít a particularly feel good film; the film shares a similar tone to the scenes revolving around family in Donnie Darko. This isnít a particularly humorous film either, it is actually tragic. It is a strange concoction of the uplifting and the depressing as the film employs songs by The Polyphonic Spree and Elliott Smith. Perhaps this is a flaw in the film as it didnít have a clear direction in whether it wanted to be a direct drama akin to American Beauty or a quirky adolescent film like Rushmore or even Napoleon Dynamite.
The film was directed by Mike Mills, formerly a music video director, and he was notably nominated for A Golden Bear, an Independent Spirit Award and a Grand Jury Prize for his tireless effort. The film is derived from the novel of the same name written by Walter Kirn who acknowledges the novel is written from a series of memories. This is important as the character of Justin makes some questionable decisions on the spur of the moment, as do many of the other characters. Such ambiguity may be considered to be a result of underwritten characters, but as Kirn suggests it may have been imposed in such a way so that the audience needs to come to their own conclusions. It may even be a comment that life cannot be planned, only lived.
While the film does have some flaws it is admirable and with such a large cast who are playing against type. Vincent D'Onofrio gives a standout performance and Vince Vaughn is also commendable. Tilda Swinton is reliable as always and Keanu Reeves truly steals the limelight with his limited screen time. Benjamin Bratt also appears in a minor role.
Thumbsucker is presented in a 2.35:1 widescreen ratio and is 16x9 enhanced. The colour scheme of the film is well presented - there are a number of candy coloured interludes, similar to Punch Drunk Love.
Flesh tones are natural and there are no major issues regarding the quality of the print or its transfer to DVD as there is no noticeable MPEG compression artefacting or grain. Overall it is a pristine transfer with good shadow detail and black levels. The subtitles are true to the onscreen dialogue.
The soundtrack is also well produced on this DVD. The soundtrack plays an important role in the film and proves to be an encompassing experience. Subwoofer usage is average and the score includes the 20+ ensemble of The Polyphonic Spree led by Tim DeLaughter. The late Elliot Smith was involved in the production before his death in 2003 and provided three songs for the soundtrack including a cover of Cat Stevensí 'Trouble'. During the quieter moments of the film the soundtrack is clear, pristine and dialogue is audible. Overall the score is uplifting and yet melancholy, much like the film itself.
|Surround Channel Use|
The main menu is nicely designed and themed with selective score.
Strangely, the special features menu lists this extra as ĎConversation With Director Mike Mills and Novelist Walter Kirní but it actually is the Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Mike Mills.
Being Mike Millsí first commentary as this is his debut feature film, he seems a little uneasy and like most directors doesnít want to enforce his view of the film onto the audience and as a result speaks broadly about the production. He speaks in length about working with the actors and their subsequent characters and speaks relatively enthusiastically, but overall seems self-conscious. This is an average commentary which doesnít really deal with the issues presented by the film, it is more so to do with the production itself.
The local release is identical except the R1 features trailers for 2046, Breakfast on Pluto, Junebug, London, Memory of a Killer, Saint Ralph, and The Tenants.
Thumbsucker is the latest in the new wave of teenage angst films which proves adolescence doesnít really disappear with adulthood and the taking on of new responsibilities. It is an admirable effort and should be viewed simply for Keanu Reevesí role as a guru orthodontist. I suggest a rental before purchase as the filmís promotion is somewhat misleading. If you enjoy the film, the DVD presentation is very good audio/visual wise, and considering this is an independent film, it has surprisingly been supplemented with a nice selection of extras.
|DVD||Denon DVD-1910, using DVI output|
|Display||Panasonic PT-AE 700. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Amplification||Yamaha DSP-A595a - 5.1 DTS|
|Speakers||(Front) DB Dynamics Polaris AC688F loudspeakers,(Centre) DB Dynamics Polaris Mk3 Model CC030,(Rear) Polaris Mk3 Model SSD425,(Subwoofer) Jensen JPS12|