Zus & Zo
Wellspring // Unrated // $24.99 // July 8, 2003
Review by Don Houston | posted August 9, 2003
M O V I E
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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R E V I E W S
Graphical Version
Movie: Movies about relationships are a dime a dozen these days but not all are created equally. Far too often, they rely on gimmicks, star power, or an advantageous opening date to "make it" while important things like a good script, a keen idea, or solid acting/directing take back seat. Luckily for me, Zus & Zo: The New Rules Of Engagement, had a lot to appreciate which doesn't surprise me coming from Director/Writer Paula Van Der Dest.

The movie tells the story of a contemporary dysfunctional family from Europe that finds out the brother is getting married in a few weeks. The three sisters, upon hearing this fact, wonder who the guy their brother is getting married to since he's gay. Surprisingly, he's marrying a woman which throws each of them into a tailspin. Apparently, their father left the family chateau, worth a considerable sum of money, to the son if he got married by his 33rd birthday, which takes place just after the wedding. If the son doesn't get married, one or more of the daughters gets the place-and each has detailed plans for it. One wants to turn it into a trendy night club for her artistic, snobby friends (she's a performance artist herself), another wants to make it a private love nest for her and her family, while the last wants to star a day care in the 20 room beach house. Nino, the brother, just wants to sell the place since he needs the money for something important (it's part of the plot) which is perhaps the only thing that could possibly get these three together-all these supposed adults are selfish, self absorbed, greedy people who never consider working out a compromise. I won't spoil the plot but suffice it to say, it would have worked regardless of Nino's sexual orientation, because while the characters were not sympathetic, they were enjoyable to watch.

Part of what made it work for me was the non-traditional way the family was portrayed here. Admittedly, a lot of people act stunningly close to how these 4 siblings did when they are confronted with a conditional will (I lost my own parents recently and siblings and I consciously avoided problems we'd observed with other families). I think the direction was solid and the cast performed well enough that I hope to check them out elsewhere. The dialogue was believable for me, even considering the cultural differences between my experiences and those of the foreign director. Highly Recommended.

Picture: The picture was presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen (not the advertised 1.85:1 ratio). It looked very good with lots of detail and accurate fleshtones with only slight edge enhancement. There was a bit of grain from time to time but overall, I thought the picture was solid.

Sound: The audio was presented with a choice of Dutch 5.1 Dolby Digital or 2.0 stereo with optional English subtitles. The vocals and score were very clear with some separation. I listened to the surround track the first time and think it had a bit more body to it but either track was good.

Extras: The extras were limited to some trailers and a director's filmography.

Final Thoughts: When I read the dvd case to this one, I was pretty skeptical as to whether I'd like it or not which made it all the better when I found myself unable to look away. If you want a movie with a conventional outlook that appears to be made by a committee, look elsewhere but if you're willing to take a chance on an under appreciated independent film, give this one a look.



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