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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'The Unpolished')

Directed by Pia Marais
Germany 2007

 

Pia Marais' award-winng film is one of the most startling and assured feature debuts of recent years. Stevie, a wild but fiercely-intelligent 14-year old girl at the emotional heart of the film, must cope with the instabilities of her hippy parents. When they move to a small town in Germany, Stevie attempts to slip into a normal life. Whilst her parents escape their responsibilities, spending their days high, hooking up deals and filling the house with hangers-on, Stevie tries to make an impression on her new schoolmates, spreading stories of an imaginary and ideally-conventional homelife. An unblinking study of a girl caught up in a complicated adult world, THE UNPOLISHED also presents an ambivalent image of the fall-out from a counter-culture gone bad. What shines through is the resourcefulness of a girl who deserves, and is determined to get, something better, as Stevie makes the real journey towards maturity and independence that her parents ought to have made years ago. THE UNPOLISHED is humanist filmmaking of the highest order.

***

On the road in with drifter mother Lily (Pascale Schiller) while dad Axel (Birol Ünel) is serving time for slinging dope, 13-year-old Stevie (Céci Chuh) expects that the trio will head back to Portugal when her father gets out from behind bars. When it's subsequently announced that they will instead be staying in Germany and living in the home of her recently deceased grandfather, Stevie does her best to make due despite the constant presence of lazy layabout Ingmar (Georg Friedrich) and promiscuous Louise (Joana Preiss) -- who have come to stay with the family indefinitely. As Stevie begins to recognize just how harshly her chaotic home life seems to contrast the lives of her relatively "normal" peers, she begins to construct an elaborate web of tall tales in a desperate effort to fit in. Later, while attempting to enrol in school, the troubled youngster finds her attempts to conform continually thwarted by her lackadaisical parents.

Excerpt from Second Run's website located HERE

 

Poster


Theatrical Release: February 8th, 2007 - European Film Market

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DVD Review: Second Run - Region 0 - PAL

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Distribution Second Run DVD - Region 0 - PAL
Runtime 1:33:39 (4% PAL Speedup)
Video 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.37 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Audio German (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Second Run DVD

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1

Edition Details:

• Interview with Pia Marais (16:05)
• 2-page booklet featuring a new essay by Brad Stevens

DVD Release Date: July 12th, 2010

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 12

 

Comments:

This is an excellent film and while it indeed does share some similarities with Petzold's The State I Am In - I'd say it has enough uniqueness to judge it solely on it's own merits avoiding blatant comparisons - as I have read elsewhere online. The desperate encapsulation of this gal's childhood could be closer to an unrealistic horror but the heavy verité style lends the story some needed credence - with credit to Pia Marais in her directorial debut. Really - quite fabulous.

Cited on the box as 'Newly restored digital transfer approved by the director.', I have no reason to doubt it with this dual-layered DVD edition from Second Run appearing to easily identify the style fluctuations from heavy, textured grain, to smoother impressive detail in close-ups. Only some minor noise impinges this release - it is very clean and I doubt it could look better in this format. The DVD is region free, progressive, in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and rendered in the PAL standard.

The flat 2.0 channel audio is fairly consistent but not an impacting part of the presentation. Dialogue is clear. There are, well rendered, optional English subtitles. Supplements include a 16-minute interview with the director. It should be viewed after seeing the film as it reveals important plot points. She relates the film's themes and how they relate closely to her own experiences growing up. There is also a 12-page booklet featuring photos and an essay by Brad Stevens.

Despite the subject matter and rough hone look of The Unpolished it could definitely be considered quite a beautiful film. It certainly has excellent naturalistic performances and is very well worth indulging in. Second Run continue to impress with film selection and DVD production. The film may surprise with with its grace and this is highly recommended! 

Gary W. Tooze

 


 

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DVD Box Cover

   

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Distribution Second Run DVD - Region 0 - PAL




 

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