The Sculptress (1996)

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Released 6-Sep-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 180:00
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (89:59) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Stuart Orme
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Pauline Quirke
Caroline Goodall
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI Box Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes, and lots of it!
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Minette Walters is one of the most popular modern psychological thrillers writers in the world. Since 1992 she has had 12 books published and so far 5 of them have been made into telemovies for the BBC. This was her second book but the first movie made. All five of the telemovies have been released here locally as part of a Minette Walters box set by Roadshow. I decided to watch and review them in the order they were made rather than the order the books were published. This book was published in 1993 (winning an Edgar Allen Poe award in the US) and the movie was first shown in 1996. The movie received a number of awards and nominations including a BAFTA nomination for its star, Pauline Quirke who gives a stunning portrayal of Olive Martin.

    At a very simple level this is a did she/didn't she style thriller where the audience spends the entire three hours double guessing themselves about whether or not Olive Martin (Pauline Quirke) did or didn't commit the heinous crime for which she has been convicted. For better or worse, that question is not clearly answered at the end of the three hours and it is left up to the viewer to decide the answer. My wife and I didn't agree and we had both seen it before. At the beginning of the show there is a flashback to the day of the murders in 1990 (the main plot is set in 1995) where the police receive a call from Olive saying that she 'has chicken legs all over the floor and needs a policeman to help her pick them up'. On this seemingly hoaxed pretext, Detective Hal Hawksley (Christopher Fulford) arrives at 22 Leven Road and knocks at the door. The door opens to reveal Olive covered in blood and making little sense. He pushes past her and enters the kitchen to find the remains of Olive's mother and sister, chopped up and spread all over the floor. Olive is holding a bloody meat cleaver. Not surprisingly, she is convicted and sentenced to a long term of imprisonment for the murders.

    Cutting forward to the modern day, author Rosalind Leigh (Caroline Goodall) attends an appointment with her publisher. The publisher tells her that she needs to produce a book for her quickly as her royalties are dwindling fast. Rosalind has been having trouble getting over the death of her daughter and is finding it difficult to work. Her publisher convinces her to consider writing a book about Olive Martin, having already obtained agreement from Olive to cooperate. After some resistance, Rosalind agrees to consider the project and visits the jail to meet with Olive. She finds a difficult, intelligent and possibly deranged woman who makes it difficult for her to conduct an interview. Despite the difficulties she is intrigued and agrees to continue with the project. What follows is in some ways a game between the two women, giving some information, some lies and some half-truths to each other in order to gain trust. As Rosalind digs deeper both with Olive herself and others involved with the case such as Hawksley and her neighbours, she begins to wonder herself whether or not Olive is guilty. To say much more would spoil the excellent twists and turns of this wonderful psychological thriller.

    This is excellent television, based on a great story. The acting is very strong especially from Quirke and the jail scenes are very tense, well lit and shot. The music adds significantly to the feel of the film. After three hours, fans of psychological thrillers will have certainly been well entertained and can decide for themselves the answer to the question. The title refers to Olive's nickname in prison due to the nature of her crime. The show is presented here in two parts as it was originally shown on television.

    Highly Recommended.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is acceptable but certainly no better.

    The feature is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio non 16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio. The case incorrectly lists the aspect ratio as 16x9 which is a bit silly.

    The picture was quite soft, not helped by the long running time on one disc I am sure. It is somewhat variable but never better than average. There is light grain to begin with which gets worse in darker scenes and later in the show. There is some occasional macro-blocking such as at 139:20 in the background. Shadow detail is pretty ordinary. I did not notice any low level noise.

    The colour was somewhat washed out and seemed a little overbright to me generally. There was some minor colour bleeding from light colours.

    Artefacts were quite plentiful including some minor aliasing such as on a roof at 9:10, some small tape tracking errors, some edge enhancement and quite a few spots, splodges and hairs. This department is a little disappointing for a show which is only 10 years old.

    There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired. The English subtitles were clear and easy to read.

    The layer change occurs at 89:59 at the end of the first part. It was not noticeable.
    

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

Audio

    The audio quality is good.

    This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s.

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

    The score of this film by Colin Towns is very good, featuring mournful violin.

    The surround speakers were not used.

    The subwoofer was used to add bass to music and some heartbeats and other tension sounds. Obviously, considering the nature of the soundtrack this was more a function of my amp's bass management than the audio track itself.

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

Extras

    None.

Menu

    The menu included music, and the ability to select parts, scenes and subtitles.

R4 vs R1

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

     This disc is available in the same box set format in Region 2 or separately in Region 1. The Region 1 version runs for only 168 minutes so I would presume it has been cut which is a shame. I can only recommend the local or Region 2 release. Region 4 wins the comparison.

Summary

    An excellent psychological thriller based on the book by Minette Walters . Disc 1 of a 5 disc set based on her novels.

    The video quality is acceptable.

    The audio quality is good.

    No extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Friday, October 27, 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
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Yamaha YST SW90 subwoofer

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