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Alice (Miranda Otto) has been writing to her absent father since she was a little girl. The letters always came back, bearing the stamp of the Dead Letter Office. Now grown up and finding herself unemployed, she gets a job in the very office, still hoping perhaps to track him down – just to see his face. It may help make her feel better. She is hired by the rather reserved manager, Frank (George DelHoyo) and taken in by the small team who run the dead end of the postal service. Prompted by the team’s work, Alice begins her quest for Dad – eventually enlisting Frank’s reluctant help. Frank, after all, prefers to leave some things alone when nothing good can come of them; he has been deeply hurt in the past, and has lived inside his shell for years. Alice’s attitude and her innocently determined quest gently unlocks the shell.

Review by Louise Keller:
Beautifully conceived and realised, Dead Letter Office is a delightful, original film about dreams, reality and hope. While films about mail and postmen are not new, this new slant is highly original and gives ample opportunity to create an entire world which includes unseen voices of those who have left their mark in letters which end up in this collector’s shrine of unreceived messages. John Ruane’s expertise in telling off-beat stories is showcased here, while Ellery Ryan’s terrific cinematography and Roger Mason’s music capture the moodiness and evocative nature of the film. This Post Office section is a magnet to those who achieve a sense of purpose dealing with thoughts, aspirations and sorrows expressed in mail that never reaches its destination. Deb Cox cleverly builds the complex characters perceptively and with insight.

The entire cast is strong: Miranda Otto captivating as Alice and George DelHoyo enigmatic and charming as Frank. And the chemistry works beautifully. The staff is not allowed to read the mail - but ‘scanning the correspondence’ is okay; feeding the pigeon is not allowed - but minimum food for sustenance is acceptable. The Dead Letter Office makes up its own rules. As for the letters marked Special Cases - reserved for correspondence to God or the Universe, these are treated with respect, and kept ‘just in case’. There are magic moments - like when Alice meets her father (played by real life father, Barry Otto): uncluttered by words, emotionally honest. Dead Letter Office is a splendid surprise - a fresh, moving, delightful gem that deserves to be enjoyed.

Special features include the original theatrical trailer, a photo gallery and a string of insightful interviews with cast and crew.

The presentation of the interviews is simple, but effective with the questions written on cards, in keeping with the theme of letter writing. The subjects include director John Ruane, writer/co-producer Deb Cox, producer Denise Patience, cinematographer Ellery Ryan, production designer Chris Kennedy and actors Miranda Otto, George DelHoyo.

Director John Ruane retells the story of the film and describes it as a comedy with serious undertones whose humour blossomed through the actors. There are many different story threads, he says, making it the most complex film he has made in terms of charting the story.

With a bright big red letter box standing in the background, cinematographer Ellery Ryan is animated as he describes the experience, including working with Chris Kennedy, and the humour that John Ruane brings to the project.

It’s about people who have lost things, says Miranda Otto. ‘It’s about a girl looking for a man she thinks is her father, but ends up finding someone else.’ Laughingly, she calls it a ‘dramedy’ – while there is a lot of comedy in it, there is a strong dramatic storyline. She describes the relationships with John Ruane (‘self deprecating, gentle, quiet but funny’) and George DelHoyo (‘fantastic actor, very supportive’)

Published November 27, 2003

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CAST: Miranda Otto, George DelHoyo, Nicholas Bell, Syd Brisbane, Georgina Naidu, Barry Otto, Jane Hall, Mark Wilson, Jillian ODowd, Vanessa Steele, Guillermina Ulloa, Franko Milostnik

DIRECTOR: John Ruane


RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes



PRESENTATION: letterbox; audio 5.1

SPECIAL FEATURES: Interviews with cast/crew; photo gallery; trailer


DVD RELEASE: November 19, 2003

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