The Illustrated Family Doctor (2005)

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Released 14-Dec-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Black Comedy Theatrical Trailer
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Trailer-Erskineville Kings, Tom White, Laurel Canyon
Trailer-The Goddess Of 1967
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 96:34 (Case: 100)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Kriv Stenders

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Samuel Johnson
Colin Friels
Jessica Napier
Sacha Horler
Kestie Morassi
Brian Meegan
Paul Sonkkila
Sarah Pierse
Jason Gann
William Zappa
Emma Randall
Andrew Ausage
Beth Armstrong
Case ?
RPI ? Music Severed Heads

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

††† The Illustrated Family Doctor is an Australian movie which was released in 2005. Fortunately or unfortunately it screened amongst films which marked a minor renaissance of Australian cinema after years in the doldrums. These included Little Fish, Look Both Ways and The Proposition.

††† Adapted from the novel by author David Snell and Director Kriv Stenders The Illustrated Family Doctor is a bold attempt at a black comedy. The script was nominated for an AFI award. Director Kriv Stenders has said in interviews that he views the film as a fable and that he drew influences for the movie from Jaques Tatiís Playtime. This is apparent in the cold and sterile setting for the movie.

††† It deserves praise for avoiding the broad stereotypes of recent Australian comedies, such as You and Your Stupid Mate and The Extra, although the finished product is somewhat difficult to categorise. The DVD cover carries the by-line ďA comedy thatís not all wellĒ yet a sample of the theatrical trailer suggests a dark thriller. The movie is neither really comedy nor drama nor thriller.

††† Gary Kelp (Samuel Johnston) is a young man in the middle of a profound slump. His father has just died and a visit to the morgue leads to a revelation that his fatherís body has been harvested for organs. Gary struggles with the meaning of life and death vainly pleading: ďYou are more than the sum of your body parts.Ē

††† Gary works at a publishing house where they condense books. Desperate to work on fiction he is instead given the task of condensing The Illustrated Family Doctor. Aghast at the horrific photos of disease Gary slowly begins to assume the symptoms of some of the ailments in the book.

††† His physical decline is matched by the failure of his relationship with girlfriend Jennifer (Wolf Creek's Kestie Morassi) and strange encounters with an aggressive stranger played by Paul Sonkkila. His only real friend is Ray Gill (Colin Friels) who has given up a life amongst nature to condense fiction but keeps the deleted sections for himself as a private treasure trove. A love interest in the form of a mysterious woman is fraught with its own problems.

††† The acting in The Illustrated Family Doctor is variable in quality with Johnson giving a credible performance as sad sack Gary whose glum presence appears in almost every frame of the movie. However, itís difficult to empathise with his character, and nor does Stenders want us to. He is a man besieged by the tedious absurdities of modern life.

††† The environment shifts between Gary's sterile workplace and his sparsely furnished apartment in a highly stylised use of colours and production design. It doesnít feel real nor is the whole film pitched in a fantasy world which keeps the viewer on edge. The audience is trapped along with Gary in his Kafkaesque nightmare. Itís a matter of personal taste if you want to go on that journey.

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Transfer Quality


††† Recently shot on 35mm The Illustrated Family Doctor comes to DVD as a clean 1.78:1 16x9 enhanced transfer. There are no artefacts or flaws with either the source print or the transfer and the shadow detail is clear if a little soft.

††† The colour palette is decidedly muted in keeping with the downbeat subject matter. There is a predominance of cool greens and greys although for reasons which are not entirely clear there is a recurrent visual motif of primary reds and greens throughout the movie.

††† Given the desire of the director to emphasize the sterility of the surroundings it is not surprising that the characters and scenes are often framed obliquely, such as in front of deep corridors or open doors. Stenders uses this technique to alienate the viewer. Garyís world is cold and grey and the cinematography and production design reflect this world.

††† The film has subtitles for the hearing impaired and these were adequate at providing a clear rendering of the dialogue and a description of the sounds.

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


††† The Illustrated Family Doctor offers an English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix (448 kbps).

††† The dialogue is clear and easy to understand. The only exceptions are in a few of the bathroom scenes where the dialogue is a little difficult to hear. There were no problems with audio sync.

††† The surround effects are appropriate to the film which is dialogue driven.

††† The score is by electronic experimentalists Severed Heads and it provides an unsettling background to the action. At various times during the film the subwoofer swells with a throbbing bass tone which underscores the troubled state of mind (and body) in which Gary finds himself.

††† The rest of the sound is appropriately rendered although surround sound is used modestly.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


††† The extras on this disc are fairly minimal and not particularly interesting.

††† The menu screen has some little animations which make for a few moments of diversion.

††† As previously mentioned, the trailer paints the movie as a kind of action/drama/thriller which it certainly is not. There are other trailers on the DVD.

††† The Biographies are text based and explain the credentials of the Director, Producer and chief cast members which largely revolve around television.

††† The photo gallery consists of a series of approximately twelve images from the movie.

††† A further word about the extras: A Special Edition of the movie is or will be released which apparently has a featurette and some other extras although no feature commentary.

††† Those keen on this movie may wish to buy the Special Edition.

R4 vs R1

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

††† There does not appear to be any Region 1 version of this movie.


††† An interesting addition to the recent crop of quality Australian films, The Illustrated Family Doctor should be seen as a quirky and sometimes funny diagnosis of the ills of modern society. The DVD presents this film in its best light and those who like their movies dour, dark and offbeat should give it a try.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDOnkyo DV-SP300, using Component output
DisplayNEC PlasmaSync 42" MP4 1024 x 768. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJBL Simply Cinema SCS178 5.1

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