DVD Rating: ***

Reviewed by: Anton Bitel

Read Paul Griffiths's film review of Unrelated

In keeping with the style of the film itself, this DVD - the first to be released by Robert Beeson and Pam Engel's New Wave Films label - is a minimal affair. The plain menu page, with neither moving images nor soundtrack, offers access to the only extra here, a 25-minute interview with writer/director Joanna Hogg conducted by Jonathan Romney.

Still, again like the film itself, this featurette belies the apparent simplicity of its form with a surprising richness. After running swiftly through her career first as photographer, then National Film School student, then TV drama director, and finally as the feature director she had aspired to be a decade earlier, Hogg speaks of her influences, including Ozu and Bresson – and then reveals the secrets behind her restrained style.

Copy picture

Apparently some of her filmic techniques were self-imposed, like the decision to keep certain key events (especially the violent argument between Oakley and his father) off-screen, while others, like the remarkable stillness of the cinematography, were necessitated by the limitations of her prosumer equipment - a Sony HVR-Z1E that created digital artifacts whenever it was moved.

The cast all lived together in the villa where most of the film unfolds, and were required to move in a week before the shoot to bond - all except for Kathryn Worth, who was asked by Hogg to arrive the day filming began so that she, like her character Anna, would be alienated from the rest.

Hogg expresses her surprise that people find the film 'beautiful', given her conscious effort to emphasise the less glamorous, more industrialised aspects of the Tuscan landscape. For the future, she says she would like to explore what the non-vacational lives of characters similar to Anna and Tom Hiddleston's Oakley would be like – but she is anxious that her new-found fame should not compromise her work. "Perversely," she says, "the smaller amount of money you have, the more freedom you have." Amen to that, and may the budgets of this extraordinary artist remain manageably low.

Reviewed on: 06 Feb 2009
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A middle-aged woman holidays with her bourgeois friends in Tuscany. Plus read our with Joanna Hogg.

Product Code: NW001

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.78:1

Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1

Extras: Interview with Joanna Hogg

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