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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Secret Society
Secret Society
First Run Features // Unrated // January 7, 2003
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Don Houston | posted February 8, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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Movie:

Secret Society is a movie about a young woman with low self esteem who finds her niche as a Sumo wrestler in a poor, working class English town. If that doesn't sound implausible, what would? Charlotte Britain plays a gal named Daisy who is married to a dreamer (Lee Ross) in an economically depressed England. When he loses his job, she needs to find work to help make ends meet. After taking a crummy job at a local food plant, full of snippy co-workers and boring work, the boss opens up a window of opportunity for her. Apparently, she got her job because she was fat and showed potential for breaking free of her self loathing. The boss had developed a fascination with the power and confidence of the Japanese Sumo wrestlers she saw and identified with them since she too was rather large. When Daisy is first introduced to the whole thing, she tries to back out as it seems crazy. Eventually, she comes to see it as a means of using her ample body to turn her life around from the oft teased fat chick to a woman who didn't take any guff from anyone.

Picture:

The picture is presented in 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen and looks much better than the average low budget foreign film. The colors and dvd transfer appeared to be very well done and I noticed no visible artifacts.

Sound:

The sound was presented in 2 channel Dolby and a bit less crisp than the picture but well done nonetheless.

Extras:

The dvd had several interviews with the cast and director where they describe their own impressions of the movie. The central theme of taking control of your own life and living it to the fullest reappeared many times when they were discussing their individual roles in making the movie. There was also a behind the scenes feature where I got to see some of the scenes being made. There was also a director's biography and photogallery. Lastly, there were three trailers to interesting looking movies by First Run Pictures including Tu Valu, Aberdeen, and Fighter.

Final Thoughts:

I can't claim expertise in knowing how accurate a portrayal of Sumo wrestling this one had but on a general level, we've seen the movie many times before. Much like the Rocky movies, the Karate Kid, or any other movie where an outsider struggles to overcome tremendous odds and cast aside what society tells them is their place, Secret Society is full of social commentary by writer/director Imogen Kimmel. Much of the specific story could be construed as a feminist manifesto but that'd be missing the big picture here (no pun intended).

The movie's humor was a bit dry, as British humor tends to be, and often somewhat subtle for a guy like me but repeated viewings had me catching something every time which is the sign of a well made movie. It'd be easy to dismiss this movie as a morality play on the value of fat women, whom our society seems to dislike so much, but if you dig a bit deeper, it addresses a lot of complex issues relating to societal norms and expectations. For me, the limitations of such a movie primarily revolve around that obscure British humor I mentioned earlier which is why I'm only suggesting it as recommended but I can see why so many professional critics praised it for it's "offbeat humor", "scruffy charm" and "eccentric" nature. That the dvd itself showed some effort, both in the picture and sound quality as well as some unique extras, was only the icing on the cake. Look past the plot device of Sumo wrestling and you'll find a quirky, cute comedy.

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