Beautiful People (1999)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 10-Sep-2001

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 103:02 (Case: 107)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jasmin Dizdar
Studio
Distributor
British Film Inst
Magna Home Entertainment
Starring Charlotte Coleman
Rosalind Ayres
Roger Sloman
Heather Tobias
Danny Nussbaum
Case Click
RPI $29.95 Music Garry Bell


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded 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 None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

    Beautiful People is a very clever film. It is hard to classify, as there are elements of black comedy, social commentary, light comedy and some cutting satire. It is the sort of film that should be seen by many - not only is it an enjoyable romp, but it shows us our own society as viewed by someone with an outside perspective. That we see our society, or in this case English society, from this point of view occasionally is critical if we are not to become too complacent in our attitudes.

    The writer/director of this film is Jasmin Dizdar, who was born in Bosnia and grew up there. He has drawn on his own experiences in Bosnia, and those he had when he left the country, to give us an insight into the contrasts he saw. He has brought his own experiences into the film through the casting, using English actors for the English roles and Bosnian refugees for the Bosnian roles, depicting the real experiences of these people as they enter a new and in many cases confusing society. The casting has given us a fantastic and very believable set of performances. There is great depth in each character, and there are quite a lot of characters in this film that weave the five separate story lines. The exception to this is even very well done; two characters that are very good are specifically left without depth to highlight the fact that their struggle occurs without background and for the simplest of reasons.

    There are five separate story lines in this movie, revolving around a single theme. The film examines the impact of the interaction of a number of Bosnian refugees on the lives of a selection of people that come from various areas of English society. It is set in 1993, which if memory serves, was near the height of the conflict. The first group involves characters from the very upper crust of London society (the father is a member of parliament). The impact here is on the daughter (Charlotte Coleman) who is looking for something far beyond the 'stiff upper lip' section of society that she inhabits, someone with depth and open emotions. She meets a very interesting Bosnian refugee and is instantly attracted to him. This is of course not particularly welcomed by her family.

    The second group revolves around a gynaecologist (Nicholas Farrell) working very hard in the national health system. He also has family problems and his wife is leaving him. He meets a young couple that are expecting a baby, and he is drawn into their lives. In solving their problems, he is helped to understand his own, and maybe place them in their true context.

    The third group consists of a reporter that goes to Bosnia to report on the situation there. He is married to an artist. He returns home from a particularly distressing trip with 'Bosnian syndrome'. I will leave it to the film to expand on this rather than spoil a very interesting part of the film.

    The fourth group are two strange characters and their nurse. They spend the film trying to kill each other and the nurse acts as a peacekeeper.

    The final group is headed up by a working class head teacher who is approaching his fiftieth birthday and is bewildered by the direction in life that his son has chosen. The son has become involved with 'the wrong crowd' and is involved in soccer hooliganism, but he is not entirely comfortable with this. His interaction starts with a very unexpected trip to the Bosnian war zone where he meets a young boy that has a major impact on his life and that of his parents.

    The breakdown into five is fairly arbitrary as the stories intermix and have subplots within each group. While there is a lot going on in this film, at no time did I feel overwhelmed or lose the thread.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Unfortunately, we do not get a great transfer. There are signs of overcompression in many scenes, usually where there is movement.

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    Sharpness is pretty good throughout the film with an acceptable amount of detail visible, except where it is let down by the problems with the MPEG compression. There are no problems with the shadow detail and while there is a small amount of low level noise it is not particularly distracting.

    The colours are good. There are times when the colours are muted, but I believe this is intentional, particularly in sections of London like the tenements. At other times, they are bright and well saturated with no chroma noise or bleed.

    The most visible artefact throughout the film is posterization, particularly on the faces of the actors. A very clear example is at 9:49 but it can be seen in many spots particularly when the character is moving. We also see a loss of resolution on some scene changes (e.g. 11:05) and some macro-blocking in pans such as at 65:33.

    There were no film to video artefacts such as aliasing, but there were a number of film artefacts. The majority of the time these were quite small and not distracting but occasionally they were quite large and noticeable. Examples are at 31:08 and 63:07. Low light areas show some film grain, the background of 14:53 is a good example of this.

    There are no subtitles.

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

Audio

    There is only one audio track, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 track. The surround encoding flag is not set which is a surprise as this is clearly a surround encoded soundtrack. I know the purists will be upset with me, but this is a perfectly serviceable effort even if it is only surround encoded. The mono surrounds are well used and the subwoofer kicks in with redirected bass in the right spots.

    The only problems you might have with the dialogue is that some of the accents are quite heavy, including the Bosnian accents and a Scottish couple. If you are not used to listening to a thick brogue then you might miss a few words.

    The audio was in sync throughout.

    The music is very good and supports the story very well. In particular, there is a moment where they make use of a very British piece of music from the Victorian Pomp and Circumstance era. This is a brilliant piece of biting satire and had me both laughing and crying at the same time.

    The surrounds were as good as a pro-logic track can be. They are put to use both to expand the sound stage and for ambience, such as at the airport and in the Bosnian conflict itself.

    There is a good solid bottom end to the audio. Redirected bass supported both the music and did a reasonable job again in the scenes showing the conflict itself.

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

Extras

    We have a theatrical trailer, a featurette which is a series of interviews with the director and some of the cast, and a series of interviews with the director and cast. Confused? Yes, the featurette is very similar to the interviews extra.

Menu

    The menus are presented in 1.78:1 and are 16x9 enhanced. They are quite nicely animated and have Dolby Digital 2.0 musical backing.

Theatrical Trailer 

    This is presented in 1.78:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced. It is of quite poor quality and has a large amount of grain visible. It is also not very sharp. It is is accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 track.

Featurette

    This is a series of interviews with the director and some of the actors. The interviews were done separately and then edited together. The editing has some problems with the person being interviewed jumping quite often from one position to another. They have just cut out either pauses or unwanted dialogue. I found this quite jarring at times. The information, particularly from the director, is interesting and worth a listen.

Interviews

    There are four interviews; the director, Nicholas Farrell, Danny Nussbaum and Charlotte Coleman. This is very similar to the featurette differing only in that they are not spliced together. They run for a total of just over eleven minutes but are proportioned logarithmically. The director gets seven minutes, Farrell three odd, Nussbaum one and Coleman less than one.

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 misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

Summary

    Beautiful People is a great film. It is hard not to come away with a better understanding of many issues surrounding refugees and is particularly appropriate in Australia at the moment.

    The video could have been better, but is not a disaster.

    The audio is a good serviceable Pro-logic track.

    The extras look like a rush job for the DVD but have some interesting information.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Tuesday, September 25, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDSkyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output
DisplaySony 1252Q CRT Projector, 254cm custom built 1.0 gain screen. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationSony STR-DB1070
SpeakersB&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)

Other Reviews
The DVD Bits - Dean B

Comments (Add) NONE