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The Criterion Collection

review by Zach B.



Not Rated

Running Time: 99 Minutes

Starring: Genevieve Lemon, Karen Colston, Tom Lycos, Jon Darling, Dorothy Barry, Michael Lake, Andrew Pataczek

Written by: Gerard Lee and Jane Campion

Directed by: Jane Campion



Studio: Criterion

Retail Price: $39.95

Features: Audio Commentary with Director/Co-Writer Jane Campion, Director of Photography Sally Bongers and Co-Writer Gerard Lee, Making Sweetie, Jane Campion's Early Short Films, Jane Campion: The Film School Years, Behind-The-Scenes Photos and Production Stills, Theatrical Trailer

Specs: 1.85:1 Widescreen 1080p High Definition, DTS-HD Master Audio Surround, English Subtitles, Chapters (26 Chapters)

Released: April 19th, 2011

Sweetie is presented in a 1080p High Definition transfer, with the aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The transfer was supervised by director of photography Sally Bongers and director Jane Campion. Other than some instances of shimmering, and some tiny little flaws on the print, this is an overly gorgeous transfer. There's a flawless handle on the grain which gives this transfer a very film-like look, and the amount of detail is extraordinary in the most ordinary locations — be it cracks on a parking garage law, the threads on the characters' clothing and even the lines in the characters' faces. Black levels are solid, and fleshtones are accurate. Color saturation is great too: nothing smears, and colors pop all while never being overwhelming. This is a wonderful and pleasing transfer.  

Sweetie features a Surround track in DTS-HD Master Audio. It's a steady and well-rounded track that makes the most of what the film has to offer. Dialogue is always clear and easy to hear, while surrounds are fulfilled by simple background noises and musical cues. There are limitations of course, but the track here is satisfying and goes a long way in creating a sonic Detail iance for the film. There are no audio defects either, so you will not hear any hissing, scratches or distortion.

English subtitles are included.


First up is an Audio Commentary with Director/Co-Writer Jane Campion, Director of Photography Sally Bongers and Co-Writer Gerard Lee. Lee joins the track later on, and the trio are friends from their film school days in Australia. Campion is up front that she used to be in a serious relatioship with Lee, and that their romance informed the film. There's a good balance here: the friendships give way to an easy rapport and laughs, as there are memories of their time at school. But a lot is discussed in the track and there's plenty of insights to be gained about the making of the movie. Campion discusses her methods of working and directors she admires. The writing of the movie is discussed in fine detail between the writers, as there is an emphasis on themes, metaphors and that sort-of depth. Framing shots, the costumes, editing and other technical details are discussed too. A worthy listen for fans of the movie.

Making Sweetie is a 22 minute recollection of the film's production with actors Genevieve Lemon and Karen Colston. It's like watching old friends reminiscene: the two are very chummy, and only have fond memories of being in part of the production. The two discuss their thoughts on initially reading the script, how they bonded instantly and how they brought their own experiences of having siblings to their work. From there, the piece consists of a lot of anecdotes. It's a breezy, entertaining and interesting watch — imbued with photos and behind-the-scenes footage.

A real treat are Jane Campion's Early Short Films. Three of them, made in 1982 and 1983, are included: "An Exercise in Discipline: Peel," "Passionless Moments" and "A Girl's Own Story."

Jane Campion: The Film School Years is a conversation between the filmmaker and critic Peter Thompson, which was filmed in 1989. Running a little over 19 minutes and produced for Campion's alma matter (the Australian Film Television and Radio School), it's a well-rounded look at the filmmaker as she was moving onto bigger things. Campion discusses her days as a young filmmaker while in school, her struggles and the emergence of her voice as a storyteller. 

There's also a Production Gallery featuring photos by Regis Lansac, and the Theatrical Trailer

Inside the keepcase is your Criterion booklet, featuring a nice essay by film scholar Dana Polan.


Jane Campion's breakthrough feature has now been released on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection, and it's worth a look. This edition is the same as the DVD version, with an obvious upgrade in the film's presentation. The supplements are excellent, as they trace Campion's early days as a filmmaker. Fans of the filmmaker and this movie should have no reservations investing in this Blu-ray edition.