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New Waterford Girl
New Waterford Girl
Actors: Liane Balaban, Tara Spencer-Nairn, Mary Walsh, Nicholas Campbell, Cathy Moriarty
Director: Allan Moyle
Genres: Comedy
NR     2002     1hr 37min

Filmed on location in damp, windswept Nova Scotia and set in the 1970s, New Waterford Girl centers around the attempts of Moonie (newcomer Liane Balaban) to flee the constraints of small-town life. The lanky lass would lik...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Liane Balaban, Tara Spencer-Nairn, Mary Walsh, Nicholas Campbell, Cathy Moriarty
Director: Allan Moyle
Creators: Bora Bulajic, Christopher Zimmer, Jennifer Kawaja, Julia Sereny, Ted East, Tricia Fish
Genres: Comedy
Sub-Genres: Comedy
Studio: Wellspring
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 03/26/2002
Original Release Date: 01/01/1999
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1999
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 1hr 37min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Trying to Leave
BeachReader | Delaware | 06/19/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Mooney Pottie is an eccentric, teenage, odd duck in the small Irish-Catholic town of New Waterford on Cape Breton, Nova Scotia---a town where the mere mention of the Blessed Virgin will stop a sinner "in his tracks". Played to perfection by Liane Balaban, Mooney is determined to escape from her small-town life by any means possible (including cleverly trying to get herself a false bad reputation and then planning to tell her parents she is pregnant so they will send her away).Mooney befriends a new neighbor, Lou (played with brilliant perfection by Tara Spencer-Nairn) after an initial period of wariness at this transplanted New Yorker's enthusiasm for New Waterford.This comedy reveals its quirky twist in the first scene, a wedding and funeral being held at the same time in the local Catholic church. The pregnant bride shares the altar with her father's casket - showing the inherent thrift of the locals! Of course, sorting out the sympathy and wedding cards becomes a bit of a problem.The authenticity of the script can be attributed to the fact that it was written by a woman who actually lived in New Waterford in the 70s, the time in which the movie is set.Despite her desire to get out, we see the beautiful, if rough, vista of Nova Scotia through Mooney's eyes and realize the pull this incredible coastal area has on her.A delightful film---every actor does a fine job and the coastal settings are spectacular."
Repeated Viewings Recommended
Only-A-Child | 10/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Film doesn't get much better than Alan Moyle's very original "New Waterford Girl". That said, prospective viewers should understand that "New Waterford Girl" withholds much of its pleasure from the first viewing, be prepared to watch it at least three times which is not difficult because it is one of those films with unexpected depth that gets better with each viewing. Even your reaction to the cinematography will change with each viewing as the unremittingly grim visuals (subjects are often framed against gray skies and windswept beaches) which initially make you shiver become increasing beautiful.

The DVD is broken down into 16 scenes, which are more like film segments because each contains several actual scenes. What separates "New Waterford Girl" from most films is how well each of these 16 segments works in isolation. Watch them individually to fully appreciate the perfect direction, shot selection, score, and production design that underlies this wonderful film.

The main character, 15 year old Moonie (Liane Balaban), is one of those freaks of genetics who occasionally spring up in unexpected places, whose comparative intelligence and ambition set them apart from family and peers. She loves her family but has simply outgrown the small Nova Scotia town of New Waterford and dreams of getting out. Once engaged and observant, she now drifts around town with her face in a book, having written off and distanced herself from everyone around her. Boys are attracted to Mooney (plausible since Balaban looks like a cross between Natalie Portman and Winona Rider) but she is focused on getting out rather than on boys. It is a dream part, as Balaban through behavior and voice-over must somehow balance Moonie's generally unpleasant demeanor and too soon maturity with the fragility and vulnerability of a young girl.

Enter new next door neighbor Lou Benzoa (Tara Spencer-Nairn) who has just moved to New Waterford from the Bronx with her mother (Cathy Moriarty). In homage to Moriarty's "Raging Bull" character, Lou's father is a jailed boxer who has taught Lou how to throw a punch. Lou is as extroverted and impulsive as Mooney is defensive and introspective. It is in the Moonie-Lou friendship that Moyle's film transcends the traditional female bonding story. Rather that fall into the trap of having the two girls immediately hit it off, Moonie is resistent. But Lou keeps trying and eventually Moonie comes around.

Lou immediately embraces the small town experience and her fresh perspective on the things that Mooney has stopped noticing begins to subtly change Mooney's feeling about her hometown. An especially beautiful scene involves Mooney joining in as her two sisters (if they look like sisters it is because they are played by actresses who are sisters-nice casting) sing a traditional song around a campfire. Mooney's internal conflict (and increasingly difficult decision) between staying or going is what the film is about but Moyle artfully soft-pedals this dynamic by packaging it around a humorous parallel story about Mooney's scheme to escape from New Waterford.

In this small Irish Catholic town the very mention of the blessed Virgin is enough to make potential sinners stop dead in their tracks. Much of the humor comes from Lou's ability to knock out boys with a sucker punch. The local girls enlist her as an agent of the blessed Virgin who can punish their two-timing boyfriends. In "Times Square" Moyne used a similar contrivance, having the two girls drop television sets from the Times Square rooftops. While both are mildly ridiculous, beneath the surface of each there is considerable food for thought as metaphors for issues raised by the films; in "New Waterford Girl" these include infidelity, sexual awakening, forbidden love, and small-minded parochialism.

But in the final analysis "New Waterford Girl" is transcendent because of the pairing of Balaban and Spencer-Nairm. The two actresses not only hold their own with each other, they are perfect complements and Moyle skillfully uses reaction shots that allow them to enhance each other's performances.

WARNING: Although most of the technical production elements (cinematography, production design, editing) are excellent, the audio (at least on the DVD) is second rate (more accurately second to all). Many lines are a challenge to make out and several are simply unintelligible. I suspect that it was a film production problem and not a DVD issue. While this does not ruin the film it definitely weakens it. The audio deficiency is compounded by the puzzling failure to provide a captioning option; someone should roast in hell for that omission. If ever a DVD needed subtitles this is the one. At least Showtime has provided subtitles in the version they are currently running.
The DVD lacks any useful special features; it has one trailer and a short (rather lame) featurette. Since there are no commentaries and the VHS version (also in widescreen) is considerably cheaper, VHS might be the way to go.

The music is fantastic and it is too bad a CD was not released.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child."
Quirky fun
Emily McB | Vancouver, Canada | 02/19/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"A thoroughly enjoyable comedy, set in Cape Breton, in which the rebelliously strange Moonie Pottie tries to escape her small town life. Hampered on all sides by her family, peers, and everyone else in town, Moonie figures the only way out is to pretend to be pregnant-- so she'll be sent away to have the child.
What follows is an unusual, subtle, and charming story, featuring plenty of great characters: Moonie's best friend Lou from New York, who finds acceptance in New Waterford by punching out the local girls philandering boyfriends; Cecil Sweeney, the local high school teacher, who is completely besotted with Moonie, and lives off the leftover chile she brings him; the priest, who dreads his hours the confessional and dreams of having long hair and a little terrier; the doctor with a perpetually bleeding hand...and so on. The cast are all great, ranging from unknowns Liane Balaban and Tara Spencer-Nairn, to well known Canadian actors Nicholas Campbell and Mary Walsh (hilarious as Moonie's parents).
The type of movie you like to see more than once, to get all the little jokes."
Good movie; significant flaw in presentation
Metalfan8284 | Orange County, California, U.S.A. | 11/03/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)

"Since the mid-'90s, I've been collecting laserdiscs and DVDs. Never before have I had the following problem with a movie: it is cropped on the left, right, TOP AND BOTTOM! As such, "New Waterford Girl" is very strange and distracting to watch. Perhaps one might think that some shots were oddly composed, when this is not true.

It's apparent that the movie's real aspect ratio is 1.85:1.

For this DVD, the 1.85:1 image was first blown up to 1.33:1 (thus cropping the left and right sides). Then, some black bars were slapped on to the top and bottom of the 1.33:1 image to make it *look* 1.85:1 (now the top and bottom of the screen are missing portions of the original, 1:85:1 image).

Proof: The movie often airs on Showtime. I compared this DVD to the version I had taped off of Showtime. In particular, the scene where Mooney's in the bar; just before Lou comes up to her table. On the VHS tape, one can see Mooney's entire right hand. On the DVD, half of it is cut off.

I'm glad that this little-known, 4-Star movie is at least available on DVD (better than nothing). I just wish that it didn't have this significant flaw in presentation.

Fortunately, the rest of the disc is more appealing. The video quality is much better here than on Showtime. [Most obviously when Lou's red coat is on-screen. :)] Also, there's a cool, useful Featurette.

But still, I cannot recommend this DVD. Not until the aspect ratio problem is fixed. Until that point, one's better off seeing "NWG" on Showtime."