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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Snapper
The Snapper
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // R // December 18, 2001
List Price: $32.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted December 22, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Before the rush of recent British comedies after "The Full Monty", there were several films leading up to that period that were quite good and occasionally, even better and a bit more substancial than the current crop. One of these pictures is 1993's "The Snapper", a picture from "High Fidelity" director Stephen Frears.

The film opens with Sharon Curley (Tina Kellegher), the oldest of three children, finding out that she's pregnant. The reaction of her parents Dessie (Colm Meaney) and Kay (Ruth McCabe) is understandably negative at first, but they grow to become accepting of the fact. Meanwhile, outside, the close community carries the gossip about Sharon's pregancy like a game of "telephone". The fact that she won't reveal who the father is only fuels the speculation.

I think there's a bit of a revolt lately against this kind of film due to the fact that many of them seem to be so relentlessly cheery that most seem to find them unrealistic. Frears, on the other hand, has a nice touch taking natural comedy and characters and blending them with events both sad and lightly comedic. As with the rest of the director's films that I've seen, there is also a nicely done amount of atmosphere.

While "The Snapper" is not hugely substancial, the film does at least offer well-written and interesting characters, provide enjoyable atmosphere and go about telling the story of a caring family that sticks together in lively and enjoyable fashion.


The DVD

VIDEO: Major studios rarely release any bad transfers anymore, which makes a particularly poor one that much worse in comparison. "The Snapper"'s 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen effort, while not a total loss, is probably the weakest visual effort that I've seen from Miramax in quite some time. The picture varies from looking at least slightly crisp to soft and then finally to noticably soft and wanting in detail. This is not a low-budget picture without a talented visual artist in the crew; the terrific Oliver Stapleton ("Cider House Rules", "Restoration", the list goes on) is the cinematographer here, but the images don't do his work justice.

That's certainly not all, though. The picture looks noticably grainy and print flaws are visible throughout the film, including everything from minor specks to marks that are noticable. Some pixelation and edge enhancement are also visible. Colors are just about the only consistently decent element of the presentation, appearing slightly smeared now and then, but otherwise okay. While there are some scenes that look average, there are other moments during this presentation that I'd call very mediocre.

SOUND: The film is presented in Dolby 2.0 and the audio is better than the picture, if not by much. Certainly a dialogue-driven feature all the way, the film's audio quality is a bit rough. Although some may already have a bit of trouble understanding the accents, the fact that the speech sounds a tad bit thin won't help matters.

MENUS:: Basic, non-animated menus that essentially use film-themed images and cover art.

EXTRAS::

Commentary: This is a commentary from director Stephen Frears, screenwriter Roddy Doyle("The Commitments") and producer Lynda Myles. The fact that this is included was not promoted in any release listing that I'd seen, so it was a pleasant suprise to not only be able to hear from famed director Frears, but famed novelist and writer Doyle, along with producer Myles - although she doesn't talk as much as the other two participants. The track is quite entertaining - it's not particularly informative in any way, but it's fun to listen to the three comment on the picture and discuss their thoughts about what's unfolding on-screen. They occasionally chat about working with the actors and script/character issues, though. There's some pauses of silence here and there, but overall, I thought this was a solid track and it's great to hear from Frears and Doyle.

also: "Sneak Peek" trailers for "Blow Dry", "Shake, Rattle and Roll", "Chocolat", "Stiff Upper Lips", "Next Stop, Wonderland", "My Life So Far" and "Muriel's Wedding".

Final Thoughts: "The Snapper" is a cute picture - a well-acted mix of comedy and drama that's a pleasure. Unfortunately, the DVD isn't as much of a joy to watch - the picture quality is suprisingly weak and the audio doesn't fare much better. The price tag is also the high $32.98 that Miramax occasionally charges for their titles. While at least they have included a strong supplement here, it's still hard to recommend this with its medicore presentation. May interest some as a rental.

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