Beautiful (2000)

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Released 18-Sep-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Trailer-Kandahar; Monsoon Wedding; The Closet
DVD Credits
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 107:21 (Case: 112)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Sally Field
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Minnie Driver
Joey Lauren Adams
Leslie Stefanson
Bridgette L. Wilson
Kathleen Turner
Hallie Kate Eisenberg
Case Click
RPI $29.95 Music John Frizzell


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
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 No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, actually I didn't find these too annoying
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    It's kind of funny, but Beautiful isn't really about beauty at all, except perhaps for the ending.

    Beautiful the film is actually about ugliness - the ugliness of beauty pageants that exploit women by forcing them to pretend and to lie in order to win, the ugliness of obsession that drives a person to sacrifice all the good things in their life in order to achieve a dubious goal, the ugliness of a self-centred, nasty and mean spirited character.

    Mona Hibbard (Colleen Rennison) has been obsessed ever since she was a little girl with the idea of winning the Miss American Miss beauty pageant. She somehow manages to scrape enough money together through her ingenuity to pay for the dental braces, singing and dancing lessons and even registration fees for entering into as many beauty contests as she can qualify for. Her obsession eventually alienates her own mother and stepfather who don't understand.

    One day she meets Ruby Stillwell (Jacqueline Steiger) - a girl her age who has a wonderful talent for sewing award-winning costumes. They form an unlikely friendship and Ruby and her grandmother helps Mona by sewing costumes for her participation in beauty contests. They watch the annual Miss American Miss pageants religiously and Mona starts taking notes on the characteristics of winners so she can come up with a winning formula - to "crack the code" so to speak.

    Fast forward to several years later - Mona (now played by Minnie Driver) and Ruby (Joey Lauren Adams) are still close friends and Mona is still not winning any contests and rapidly losing hope. Plus she is pregnant and therefore if she gives birth she will be disqualified from entering Miss American Miss. Ruby decides to rear up the child as her own in order to allow Mona to continue her "career."

    Fast forward again to the "present" (2000). Mona is finally on the road to achieving success by winning the "Miss Illinois" title. However, she has left a trail of scandal behind her due to her obsession, single-mindedness and mean-spirited nature. Her past looks like it's about to catch up with her, especially when a TV reporter called Joyce Parkins (Leslie Stefanson) seems determined to want to "expose" her.

    Her own daughter, Vanessa (Hallie Kate Eisenberg), thinks Ruby is her mother and absolutely hates Mona. Then the worst happens - Ruby working as a nurse is falsely accused of aiding an old patient with euthanasia. Ruby is arrested and suddenly Mona and Vanessa have to learn to deal with one another.

    This is Sally Field's debut as a director in a major feature film. I wish her well, but unfortunately I can't really warm to this. Mona is such an unsympathetic and destructive character that I kept cringing at her selfish and uncaring behaviour throughout. By the time the ending came, I'd stopped caring one way or the other.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a widescreen 1.85:1 transfer, 16x9 enhanced, with automatic Pan & Scan encoding (which I did not test). This is the intended aspect ratio based on a 35mm print.

    During the opening titles, we get to see footage of past beauty pageants presented in black and white. The film looks quite grainy but I was soon to discover that this is all intentional.

    The transfer quality for the rest of the film is actually quite good, with lots of detail and very vibrant colours. Apart from very slight Gibb's effect ringing I did not detect any video artefacts and the film source appears relatively clean.

    The film source itself appears quite clean with no significant marks, which is consistent with the age of the film.

    The high quality of the transfer is more notable as this is a locally authored disc (by Madman Cinema) for an independent distributor (AV Channel). The Region 1 release is done by Columbia Tristar - I don't know why they are not doing the R4 release - maybe it has something to do with international distribution rights.

    There is an English for the Hearing Impaired subtitle track, which I turned on briefly just to check its presence.

    The quality of the transfer is particularly impressive since this is single sided single layered disc.

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

Audio

    Unfortunately we do not get the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track present on the R1 version of this disc. Instead, all we get is English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s).

    The Dolby surround flag has not been turned on, and this appears to be a straight Dolby Stereo track. The rear speakers are not really utilized for anything apart from musical ambience from the soundtrack. This is a very dialogue-focused film so most of the sound comes from the front centre.

    Dialogue was relatively easy to understand and I did not detect any audio synchronization issues.

    The original music score by John Frizzell is not really all that memorable or notable. The film also includes a number of songs integrated into the beauty pageant footage. I was surprised to note in the closing credits that Minnie Driver actually sings "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" in the film (i.e.. she is not miming someone else's vocals).

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

Extras

    Extras on this disc are limited to theatrical trailers and cast & crew profiles.

Menu

    The menus are 16x9 enhanced. The main menu includes very limited animation and background audio.

Theatrical Trailer (2:19)

    This is presented in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 letterboxed (no 16x9 enhancement) and Dolby Digital 2.0 (224 kb/s).

Biographies-Cast & Crew

    This is a set of stills (16x9 enhanced) providing brief biographies and filmographies for:

Trailer - Kandahar (1:24); Monsoon Wedding (2:15); The Closet (1:17)

    These trailers are presented in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 letterboxed (no 16x9 enhancement), 1.78:1 letterboxed and 1.33:1 pan & scan respectively. The audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0 (224 kb/s).

DVD Credits

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 version (which is currently rental-only) of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    Given that the film soundtrack is fairly front centre focused, I wouldn't think that the presence of the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track in R1 would be that much of a big deal.

Summary

    Beautiful is about the ugly side of beauty pageants, and the obsession of one participant to win regardless. The video quality is superb, and the audio quality is acceptable (though we only get a Dolby Digital 2.0 track instead of the Dolby Digital 5.1 track on R1). Extras are minimal.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Tuesday, July 09, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-626D, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3300
SpeakersFront and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Martin F (read my bio)
Jeff K's Australian DVD Info Site - Roger L

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