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Pauline And Paulette (DVD)

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Genre: Drama / Theatrical Release: 2001 / Director: Lieven Debrauwer / Actors: Dora van der Groen, Ann Petersen ... / DVD released 28 October, 2002 at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: Anamorphic, PAL, Widescreen

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    As a rule, Flemish-language films rarely make much of an international impact, but Pauline & Paulette is a refreshing exception. Director Lieven Debrauwer's debut is an affectionate coming-together of two sisters: the mentally-restricted Pauline, living in a world of flowers and fantasy, and Paulette, her life occupied with lingerie and operetta. The story focuses on the exasperation of Pauline as she is shunted between provincial Belgium and Brussels and the realisation of Paulette, having retired to the coast, that a sister in her life might not be a bad option after all. The interplay between veteran actresses Dora van der Groen and Ann Petersen is minutely observed in detail, with the remaining cast a triumph of ensemble acting, not least Rosemarie Bergmans as the sophisticated "other sister" Cecile and Idwig Stéphane as the pompous Albert. At just 72 minutes, the film is almost too taut for its own good, but if this was Debrauwer's way of avoiding the sentimental, so much the better. Witty and touching in equal measure, this is a film to savour. On the DVD: Pauline & Paulette has a 1.85:1 widescreen picture format that captures the flowers and clothing of Paulette's shop with gorgeous realism. There are subtitles in five languages. The original trailer is included, and there's an insightful running commentary from Debrauwer. --Richard Whitehouse