Amy (1998)

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Released 7-Apr-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Menu Audio
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer
Music Video-Music Clip
Easter Egg
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1998
Running Time 99:46
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (66:04) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Nadia Tass
Studio
Distributor
Cascade Films
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Alana De Roma
Rachel Griffiths
Ben Mendelsohn
Nick Barker
Kerry Armstrong
Jeremy Trigatti
William Zappa
Torquil Neilson
Sullivan Stapleton
Mary Ward
Susie Porter
Frank Gallacher
Malcolm Kennard
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $14.95 Music Phil Judd


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
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 No

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Plot Synopsis

    Amy is somewhat of a notorious feature in the recent history of Australian film. Its mediocre reviews and disappointing box office take brought the career of AFI favourite Nadia Tass crashing down (she has been relegated to US television movie-of-the-week work ever since). The film does have a core of fans. If you are one of them, you may prefer to jump to the technical sections of the review.

    Eight year old Amy Encker (Alana De Roma) is a troubled little girl. It seems she has been deaf and mute since a tragedy befell her rock star father when she was four. Amy and her mother, Tanya Rammus (Rachel Griffiths), move from a self-imposed exile in the country to the city after child welfare threaten to take Amy away. In the city, local musician Robert (Ben Mendelsohn) discovers something that countless psychologists have missed for years; Amy can hear people sing and will happily sing herself. Musical melodrama and excessive sentimentality ensues as Amy and Tanya continue to avoid child welfare officers amidst a street full of two dimensional stereotypes.

    Amy largely fails as a movie because of the clichés and stereotypes it relies upon to carry its story. Worse still, those stereotypes haven't aged well. The core concept of the movie has been well thought through, but it seems the filmmakers were too focussed on getting that concept to the screen and not on making a solid feature around that central concept. None of the characters other than Amy herself, and to a lesser extent her mother Tanya, have any depth of character - something essential in a character-driven drama such as this - nor are they particularly likeable. Almost every scene falls back to a cliché; the education review board with one member that goes against the grain to defend Tanya, the evil child welfare workers whose 'evilness' is so ham fisted you feel that you should be shaking your fist at the screen every time they appear, the resentful residents that have a miraculous change of heart thanks to Amy...

    The interviews featured as extra features on the disc go a long way to explain where everything went wrong. Producer/writer/director of photography David Parker and director Nadia Tass had been trying to get the concept off the ground for a decade, around the time they made the masterpiece The Big Steal. Pre-production occurred sporadically over the course of five years. Ultimately, the film appears to have failed primarily because the concept was held too dearly by the filmmakers.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio that is 16x9 enhanced. The original theatrical aspect was 1.85:1.

     The video is reasonably sharp and never noticeably grainy. Black levels are good and dark scenes quite clear. The colour is not particularly vibrant, but is quite even and natural. Skin tones are quite accurate and do not vary from scene to scene.

     A few artefacts have been introduced during the transfer from film to DVD, but there are no significant DVD compression artefacts noticeable (no doubt thanks to the high bitrate of the feature). Most of the artefacts will not be particularly evident on smaller screens, but stand out particularly on larger digital displays. Throughout the whole feature there is a series of dark lines, each a darker shade of the colour you would expect at that point, that appear on the far left of the picture. During several outdoor scenes at the start of the film (e.g. at 2:15) a vertical line, similar to those at the left of the picture, appears about a quarter of the distance of the image from the right hand side. Minor film artefacts such as dust and dirt are occasionally noticeable, but never show up in significant quantities.

    English subtitles for the hearing impaired are included. These are quite accurate and clearly denote the difference between plain dialogue and lines that are sung (a very important distinction for this film).

    The layer change takes place at 66:04 at a relatively discreet point at a cut in a scene.

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

Audio

    One audio track is available, English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (224 Kbps).

    The mix is very good. Dialogue is clear and never overpowered by any other audio. Amy herself has obviously been dubbed in post production and the sync of her lines is frequently a fraction out, but there are no other noticeable ADR issues. The surrounds and subwoofer are silent throughout.

    The music throughout the film fits the style of the film, but fails to stand out as you might expect from a film so centred around musical concepts.

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

Extras

Menu Audio

    Generic static menus feature a variety of looped songs from the film.

Interviews-Cast & Crew

    Very generic press-kit interviews with director Nadia Tass, writer/producer/director of photography David Parker, and stars Rachel Griffiths, Ben Mendelsohn, Alana De Roma and Nick Barker. This is very generic "this movie means so much to me" and "This character is so much like me" stuff that is likely to put a smile on the faces of fans of the movie, but not likely to be watched more than once.

Theatrical Trailer

    Not a particularly captivating trailer that's sole focus seems to be trying to tell the audience that Amy isn't the same as every other cookie-cut Australian film.

Music Video

    A music clip for one of the film's songs cut to footage from the feature.

Easter Egg

    Running at 1:54, this Easter Egg collates assorted raw footage shot on set during production. It can be accessed by highlighting the musical note to the left of the "Main Menu" link on the Special Features menu.

R4 vs R1

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

    A bare bones, full frame version of the film is available in Region 1. The local release features a more accurate aspect ratio and a modest collection of special features, making it the clear winner.

Summary

    This attempt at a heart-warming character drama misses the mark largely due to its clunky stereotypical characters and cliché-ridden plot.

    The film has been given a video transfer that contains some noticeable transfer flaws, but is generally adequate for the feature. The audio transfer is basic, but adequate and has no noticeable flaws.

    A modest range of extras is included.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDLG V8824W, using S-Video output
DisplayLG 80cm 4x3 CRT. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX-D512. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-D512
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, and a 100W centre and 2 surrounds, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

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