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Always Shine (2016) - DVD Review

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Always Shine (2016) - DVD Review

4 beersDirector Sophia Takal’s Always Shine is a disturbing tale of friendship gone wrong.  It is a twisted tale where the horror is mostly psychological but always edgy.  It is also the tale of female friendship and explores just how tense that territory can be, especially within the parameters of the acting community, when jealousies invade where once laughter was.

It will not leave you feeling good about things.  It will; however, haunt you for days after.  And that, Horror Hounds and Gore-Gore Girls, is a big plus when it comes to scoring an audience with independent filmmaking.  Some audiences will hate just how independent it is, but those ready for a twist will enjoy it.

Written by actor Lawrence Michael Levine (Wild Canaries), Always Shine tells the story of best friends Beth (Caitlin FitzGerald) and Anna (Mackenzie Davis) as they attempt to reconnect with each other during a weekend getaway to Big Sur.  Things are tense from the very beginning thanks to some inadequacies felt by Anna.  She’s the better actress but the rising star in Hollywood seems to be favoring the more attractive Beth.

The tension comes to a sudden head when Anna discovers that Beth has been featured in a “Young Hollywood” article.  Suddenly, Anna is spilling details about her breakup with her boyfriend and watches – that night at a bar – as a man loses interest in her aggressiveness and then proceeds to ask Beth out.  Beth, it seems, gets everything and gives thanks and praises to no one.

And Anna wants what Beth has.  She will not be denied.

What follows is journey through a murderous mind as the two women suddenly become one.  Pay close attention as two bodies merge in the nearby woods for a clash that has thunderous repercussions echoing down into the valley of the soul.  They two women begin behaving like each other and dressing like each other and then disappearing INTO each other.

Always Shine is a film that says more about women’s roles in Hollywood than it ever admits.  Levine and Takal want to disturb you with some dark and deadly truths about Hollywood and its use of the feminine.  Actresses FitxGerald and Davis have an acute understanding of the material and their strength lies in loaded performances that aim straight for the head. 

Every one of the artists involved with Always Shine combine their talents to create a warm atmosphere that sneakily invites the unexpected.  Suddenly we find ourselves wading through undercurrents of criticizing the self and its ill-whispered rhapsody.  And then they push us even further into the void of unease with nonlinear edits and sound distortions, mirroring the awesome opening audition in which our assumptions are being challenged.

Always Shine casts light upon some pretty dark corners of meta-fiction.

Always Shine (2016) - DVD Review

MPAA Rating: Not rated.
85 mins
: Sophia Takal
Lawrence Michael Levine
Mackenzie Davis, Caitlin FitzGerald, Lawrence Michael Levine
: Thriller
Always Shine.
Memorable Movie Quote: "You're so lucky to get paid for doing what you love."
Theatrical Distributor:
Official Site:
Release Date:
November 25, 2016
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
March 7, 2017.
Synopsis: Two friends, both actresses (Halt and Catch Fire’s Mackenzie Davis and Masters of Sex’s Caitlin FitzGerald), leave Los Angeles for Big Sur embarking on a weekend getaway to reconnect. Once alone, however, the two women's suppressed jealousies and deep-seated resentments bubble to the surface, causing them to lose grasp not just of the true nature of their relationship, but also of their own identities.

Always Shine (2016) - DVD Review


DVD Details:

Home Video Distributor: Oscilloscope Laboratories
Available on Blu-ray
- March 7, 2017
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
: English
Discs: Single DVD disc
Region Encoding: Region-free playback

Presented on DVD by Oscilloscope Pictures, the transfer  - with 2.35:1 aspect ratio – is a nice-looking replication of the theatrical version, which was in limited release throughout the country last year.  While nothing pops out – as the title is weirdly NOT out on blu-ray yet – there is a naturalistic hue to the twisted tale.  Sunlight is bright and the woody, natural feel to the shoot adds a lot of depth to the DVD presentation.  Shadows are strong, but they could be stronger.  Details in clothing are nice and skin tones are solid.  The sound is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 stereo track.



  • None

Special Features:

There is an interview with director Sophia Takal and a theatrical trailer attached to this release.  For those wanting to wait until the blu-ray release occurs, there is a pre-order link on Oscilloscope Pictures website, but no release date has been confirmed.  You can try to order the blu-ray through retailers, but you'll be sent the DVD copy...

  • Performance with Sophia Takal
  • Theatrical trailer

Always Shine (2016) - DVD Review


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