Flirting is a beautifully told coming-of-age story, perhaps most notable for featuring performances from Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts, before they were famous. Set in the boarding school world of Jennings, Billy Bunter and possibly St Trinians too, albeit a world with Australian accents, this is an old-fashioned movie, with some great performances, laugh-out-loud moments, and a nice little life lesson coda at the end.
Danny Embling (played by Noah Taylor) is the school dweeb, or as he calls it 'dag', constantly picked on and punished by bullying schoolmasters living a day-to-day existence, until he meets Thandie Newton (played by Thandie Newton), a Ugandan girl from the girl's boarding school across the lake. Whilst the relationship is initially a bit hard to believe - Newton is far too pretty for us to believe she'd fall for the nerdy, odd-looking Embling the first time she meets him - everything else about the film is true to character. This is no 'cheap laughs' film, and even the minor characters have an honesty to them that is rarely realised in adolescent films like this. Nicole Kidman delivers a strong performance in a nice little cameo as the stuck-up head prefect who decides to 'bless' the relationship that everyone else seems determined to destroy, and the whole thing is delivered with workman-like efficiency by John Dugan. It's not hard to see why the film won four Australian Film Institue awards, including 'Best Film', and why the critics rating over at RottenTomatoes is so high!
Unfortunately Warner Brothers have delivered what can only be described as a cheap and nasty DVD.
Admittedly the chosen title for the film is not a good one, but everything bad about it is made worse with this DVD release. The cover is terrible. The menu is terrible and looks like it was put together by a kid of five playing around on a PC for the first time. Not that a menu was needed because there's nothing on the disk at all except the film. And even that has been taken from a poor quality print with speckles and dust being its main feature. But it gets worse... Warner Brothers UK haven't even kept correct aspect ratio of the original Region 1 widescreen release. What you've got here is a nasty cropped 4:3 version instead. This might have been acceptable ten years ago when DVDs first launched, but not now.
The film is well worth seeing as a rental or if it pops up on satellite or TV, but as a DVD purchase this release is a definite no-no, even at the slightly reduced price compared with the other major releases. Somebody at Warner Brothers should be fired for giving such a great little movie such an appalling DVD release. Can I have my money back please?!