High Heels and Low Lifes (Rental) (2001)

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Rental Version Only
Available for Rent

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Audio
Featurette
Featurette-Action Overload
Audio Commentary
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 82:50
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (56:44) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Mel Smith
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Minnie Driver
Mary McCormack
Kevin McNally
Mark Williams
Danny Dyer
Michael Gambon
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI Rental Music Charlie Mole


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/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 Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    High Heels and Low Lifes is a comedy about two girls (the "high heels") battling wits against a motley bunch of bank robbers (the "low lifes").

    Shannon (Minnie Driver) is a nurse working in the emergency ward of a hospital. Her boyfriend Ray (Darren Boyd) is an avant-garde electronic composer who is writing an "urban noise symphonic installation" based on snippets of phone conversations, which he is taping using some fancy gadgets. She arrives home late on her birthday only to find out that Ray has completely forgotten about it and is too engrossed in his phone taps to go out. They have an argument and Ray leaves in a huff.

    She then catches up with her best friend Frances (Mary McCormack), a struggling actress, and they have a wild night.

    In the meantime, a group of professional bank robbers, led by Mason (Kevin McNally) are preparing to break into a safe deposit room near Shannon's apartment. One of the robbers, Danny (Danny Dyer), is posted to keep a look-out.

    The girls, returning back to Shannon's place, give the robbers a scare. Later on, Danny tries calling his girlfriend on his mobile. At the same time, the girls decide to play with Ray's phone-tapping toys and accidentally intercept Danny's call. When Danny has to drop the phone because he has spotted a police car, the girls realise that Danny is part of the robbery and learn just enough details to be able to make the robbers very uncomfortable indeed if they knew. They try to warn the police but the local police sergeant is too busy to check out the situation.

    The next day, Frances has a bright idea - why don't they try to blackmail the robbers with their knowledge to try and get some money. They have Danny's phone number from the night before...

    What follows is a hilarious sequence of events wherein the girls have no idea of the danger they are getting themselves into as they attempt the blackmail - or even how to go about doing it effectively. The robbers, on the other hand, will stop at nothing to kill the girls - whom they believe to be part of a rival gang muscling into their territory. In the meantime, two police officers are trying to solve the robbery and are always one step behind the girls.

    I quite enjoyed this film, and the fact that it was set in London was a plus. The plot is cleverly constructed and kept me interested right until the end of the film. Incidentally, the montage of pictures from around 57 minutes onwards strongly reminded me of the Thomas Crown Affair, another "caper" film from which this film has obviously drawn some inspiration.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced, based on a 35mm film source with an intended 1.85:1 aspect ratio.

    This is a gorgeous transfer, with extremely high levels of detail and vivid colours. The film source is extremely clean, too, with only a minor trace of grain noticeable.

    The transfer is pretty devoid of any video or compression artefact as far as I can tell, apart from some minor pixelization which is occasionally evident in the background.

    There is one subtitle track present: English. I turned it on briefly and it seemed about average in terms of accuracy - Hard of Hearing cues would have been nice. There is the usual dialogue simplification for fast lines because they can't fit the dialogue in two lines of on-screen text. Frances is spelled as "Francis" at one stage.

    This is a single sided dual layered disc (RSDL). The layer change occurs at 56:44 in Chapter 10 and results in a slight, but not too annoying pause.

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

Audio

    There are two audio tracks on this disc: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s), and English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s). I listened to both audio tracks.

    The main soundtrack is pleasant enough to listen to, and basically clean, crisp and faultless. The beginning of the film, during the opening titles, features a montage of "phone conversations" panned to various channels and sounds really impressive. The actual bank heist also features subtle sound effects mixed underneath the background music across both front and rear speakers. The gunshots at the end of the film also feature good panning across speakers. Other than that, though, the film is fairly front-focused which is okay for a plot like this.

    The subwoofer was only very lightly used.

    The background music by Charlie Mole is kind of up-beat and funky, and is well mixed across all channels.

    Dialogue was pretty clear and easy to listen to at all times, even when the characters were whispering to each other or deliberately adopting a fake accent.

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

Extras

    There is a pleasing selection of extras on this rental-only disc.

Menu

    The main menu is 16x9 enhanced and includes animation and background audio. The other menus are not animated but include audio.

Featurette (19:24)

    This is a promotional featurette presented in full frame and Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s). It features excerpts from the film (in 1.81:1 letterboxed), behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with:

    By the way, if you have not watched the film yet, don't watch this featurette because it reveals the ending.

Featurette - Action Overload (1:41)

    This seems more like a trailer to to me, minus the credits. The opening few seconds is in full frame, but the rest is in 1.85:1 letterboxed. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).

Audio Commentary - director Mel Smith and writer Kim Fuller

    Interestingly, this commentary begins with a disclaimer that the views expressed do not represent the views of Buena Vista or Walt Disney, which immediately piqued my interest. However, it turned out to be pretty tame.

    Mel and Kim were obviously recorded together whilst watching the film, and they mainly talk about how the scenes were made, including pointing out which bits of film were shot "three months later" and what could have been. There's also the usual gratuitous praises for various cast members.

    A few things are explained in the commentary, including why actress Mary McCormack did not play the part with a strong American accent (and I was thinking it was because she just couldn't do an American accent well!)

    The commentary runs pretty much continuously for most of the film, apart from a few brief periods of silence. Listen out for the quip about James Taylor during the closing credits!

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

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 of this disc is currently for rental only, and misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    If you absolutely have to buy the disc today, you will have to get the R1. Otherwise, you might want to wait for the R4 version to be released for sell-though, as the extras are pretty much the same and R4 has the benefit of PAL formatting.

Summary

    High Heels and Low Lifes is a romantic caper if there is such a thing starring Minnie Driver and Mary McCormack as two girls trying to outwit a gang of bank burglars.

    The video transfer is excellent and near reference quality.

    The audio transfer is also excellent.

    The extras for this rental-only release are extensive and compare well against the R1.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Wednesday, November 13, 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 AVC-A1SE (upgraded)
SpeakersFront and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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