DEAD LETTER OFFICE: DVD
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 teams work, Alice begins her
quest for Dad eventually enlisting Franks 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. Alices 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
collectors shrine of unreceived messages. John Ruanes expertise in telling
off-beat stories is showcased here, while Ellery Ryans terrific cinematography and
Roger Masons 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
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.
Its about people who have lost things, says Miranda Otto. Its 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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YOU CAN BUY IT HERE
DEAD LETTER OFFICE: DVD (M)
CAST: Miranda Otto, George DelHoyo, Nicholas Bell, Syd Brisbane, Georgina Naidu, Barry Otto, Jane Hall, Mark Wilson, Jillian O’Dowd, Vanessa Steele, Guillermina Ulloa, Franko Milostnik
DIRECTOR: John Ruane
SCRIPT: Deb Cox
RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: PolyGram
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 20, 1998
PRESENTATION: letterbox; audio 5.1
SPECIAL FEATURES: Interviews with cast/crew; photo gallery; trailer
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Universal
DVD RELEASE: November 19, 2003