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Adapted from the popular novel by Gabrielle Carey and Kathy Lette, Puberty Blues traces the lives of two adolescent females who have spent the first part of their lives in a group by themselves, while desperately trying to break into the 'in-crowd' who dominate the Greenhill beach. Once accepted into the group, they realise the laid-back, ultra-cool facade is just that: a glossy cover-up. As Debbie (Nell Schofield) and her life-long companion Sue (Jad Capelja) are drawn into the group's many vices, including drug-usage and casual sex, they begin to realise there might be more to life and set out to regain respect and equality. Directed by Bruce Beresford (Mao's Last Dancer, Driving Miss Daisy), Puberty Blues dives deep into the 80s Australian social landscape and delivers a classic coming of age tale.
For more about Puberty Blues and the Puberty Blues Blu-ray release, see Puberty Blues Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on August 6, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Nell Schofield, Jad Capelja, Geoff Rhoe, Tony Hughes, Sandy Paul, Jay Hackett
Director: Bruce Beresford
» See full cast & crew
Puberty Blues Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, August 6, 2013
Bruce Beresford's "Puberty Blues" (1981) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Australian distributors Umbrella Entertainment. The supplemental features on the disc include an original trailer for the film; new audio commentary with actress Nell Schofield and cinematographer Donald McAlpine; exclusive new featurette with actors Nell Schofield, Tony Hughes, Jay Hackett, and Geoff Rhoe; video interviews with Nell Schofield and director Bruce Beresford; production stills; and script, press clippings and general information PDFs. In English, without optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
Debbie (Nell Schofield) and Sue (Jad Capelja), the main protagonists in Australian director Bruce Beresford's Puberty Blues, are two teenage girls who just want to be liked. But this isn't easy. To be liked you've got be cool, bold, and know how to talk so that you can get noticed by the surfers. If they like you, living in the suburbs of Sydney could feel like being in Heaven. But if they don't like you, Sydney could feel like Hell on Earth.
Early into the film Debbie and Sue manage to impress a couple of surfers and are quickly allowed to join a rather large group of girls who do all the things their parents and teachers are telling them not to – drink, have sex, and use drugs. Almost daily, Debbie and Sue also visit the best spot at Greenhill Beach where all the handsome surfers gather. They watch them surf – because girls are not allow to join them in the water - and flirt with them later on, after they come out of the water tired and hungry. Occasionally, the two girls would also buy them food and drinks with their own money.
Convinced that they are finally doing something meaningful with their lives, at school Debbie and Sue begin pointing fingers at other not so lucky girls who are wasting their time studying and worrying about their grades.
The fun times end when Debbie's new boyfriend confesses that he has started experimenting with heroin and she discovers that a condom he used while making love to her may have been defective.
Bruce Beresford's Puberty Blues was adapted from an apparently very popular in Australia novel by Gabrielle Carey and Kathy Lette, who lived in Sydney's suburbs during the 70s. The film was released in 1981, but did not impress as much as the novel. This is quite unfortunate because it is one of the best coming-of-age films I've seen in a very long time.
The majority of the events in the film are seen through Debbie's eyes. Initially, she is an insecure girl who desperately needs the type of attention the best looking girls enjoy. However, later on after she and Deb earn a spot on Greenhill Beach, she undergoes a remarkable character transformation that even confuses her parents.
There is a rather large part of the film that has that light and breezy atmosphere most similarly-themed films have. In it there are plenty of very colorful expressions as well as a number of genuinely hilarious sequences. (One of the best involves everyone's favorite ugly girl who agrees to go home with a few horny surfers). After Debbie's boyfriend reveals that he has started experimenting with heroin, however, the tone of the film changes dramatically.
Ultimately, what makes the film fascinating to behold is its casualness. Everything the two girls deal with has been shown in other films about teenagers making mistakes and learning from them, but because there is no intent to glamorize it the film never drags. The abundance of footage that captures the rhythm of life in many of Sydney's most popular locations during the'70s also makes the film a real time capsule.
Puberty Blues was lensed by award-winning Australian cinematographer Donald McAlpine, who also collaborated with director Beresford on his acclaimed war drama Breaker Morant (1980). The film's soundtrack features original tracks by Tim Finn and Les Gock.
Puberty Blues Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080/50i transfer, Bruce Beresford's Puberty Blues arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Australian distributors Umbrella Entertainment.
The high-definition transfer is encoded in 1080/50i, but it actually contains progressive frames. This means that there is absolutely no motion-judder whatsoever. To be clear, this is essentially a solid progressive transfer "locked" inside a 1080/50i encode.
Despite the fact that the high-definition transfer has been struck from an older master, detail and clarity are consistently pleasing. Close-ups as well as larger panoramic shots also convey good depth (see screencaptures #1, 2 and 5). Color reproduction is also satisfying, though during a few darker sequences some of the blacks appear slightly crushed. The best news, however, is that there are absolutely no traces of excessive degraining corrections. Sharpening adjustments have not been performed either. Needless to say, the film has a pleasing organic look. Lastly, there are some tiny specks that occasionally pop up (see screencapture #11), but no serious damage marks, large debris, cuts, or warps to report in this review. All in all, I actually like the presentation quite a lot. If a brand new master isn't available, this is how older films should be presented on Blu-ray - raw and free of problematic digital corrections. (Note: The disc is encoded for Regions A, B, and C, but because the high-definition transfer is in 1080/50i, which isn't standardized in North America, the release will be logged in our database as Region-B "locked").
Puberty Blues Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray release: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. For the record, Umbrella Entertainment have not provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
The lossless track has a surprisingly good range of nuanced dynamics. The dialog is also consistently crisp, stable, and free of background hiss. I must say, however, that this release would have greatly benefited from the inclusion of optional English SDH subtitles because some of the accents in the film are indeed quite thick. There are also a number of unique one-liners.
Puberty Blues Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Puberty Blues Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I thoroughly enjoyed Bruce Beresford's Puberty Blues. In fact, I liked it so much that I am planning to get the novel that inspired it and read it as soon as possible. Kudos to Umbrella Entertainment for bringing the film to Blu-ray and also producing a strong selection of supplemental features for it. If you have a Region-Free player, or a Region-A player that can handle 1080/50i content, consider adding this charming film to your collections. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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