Love and Other Impossible Pursuits (UK - BD RB)
Marcus checks out Natalie Portman's new film and forgets about it soon after
After falling in love with her married boss Jack (Scott Cohen), Emilia (Natalie Portman) falls pregnant and the pair themselves get married. Unfortunately, the newborn dies suddenly and Emilia struggles through her grief. Adding to the pressures in her life she is also finding it near impossible to form a connection with her new stepson William (Charlie Tahan), especially with the constant interferences from her husband's angry ex-wife, Carolyn (Lisa Kudrow). The strain on Emilia's life and relationship is proving too much and with the hidden guilt about her daughter's death weighing on her she may not be able to cope anymore.
Love and Other Impossible Pursuits (or the much better US title The Other Woman) is about as ‘True Movies’ as it sounds (and the terrible cover art solidifies that as well). Portman feels as if she’s in a better movie than the rest of the cast (mainly due to her ability to break your heart when she cries), but there’s no escaping the fact this movie isn’t swinging to be anything more than a mid afternoon drama for that female audience who like a good cry over life’s dramas.
On that level Love and Other Impossible Pursuits works. I’m not really a crier when it comes to movies but despite her best intentions my wife turned on the water works around the remembrance march scene onwards and really it’s the strength of Portman’s performance. This is by no means as strong as Black Swan (of course it wouldn’t be) but little Nat does have a knack of putting her vulnerability out there on screen and with the backdrop of a child’s death and the frustrations of her new family (including Lisa Kudrow playing her usual unlikable movie persona – why does she only take on these sorts of roles?) there’s a whole lot of sadness for Portman to play with and she makes this 'TV movie of the week' feel a little more than it should be.
The transfer here is clean enough but man is it bland. The image isn’t all that sharp with some very soft elements dotted about the runtime. The colour palette is quite natural and opts for a lot of greys and cool blues to sell the depressing nature of the story. To counter that, the flashbacks to young and fun Emila, has a lot more colour, red and purple dresses pop out of the blandness and Lauren Ambrose’s red hair feels like it’s from a different world compared to the drabness around it. Black levels seem quite strong but weirdly do nothing to make the transfer look any more than a well produced TV movie so while there’s nothing all that all that wrong with this presentation it’s a bit of a snoozefest.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track has a minimal use of all the channels. In fact for the most part it’s all about the centre speaker that delivers the only strong element, the dialogue. There’s a flimsy score floating about throughout but that element doesn’t really come in until the last act when the extra emotional oomph is required and the strong piano pieces as well as a song by Adele unleash a nice bit of bass and a full sound.
Just the trailer (01:57 HD) I’m afraid.
Love and Other Impossible Pursuits will hit a certain portion of the audience and go down very well I’d imagine (for example if my mum caught this mid afternoon I’m sure she’d think it was the best film ever for a few days) but anyone looking for another great Natalie Portman movie for 2011 won’t find it here even if elements of her performance are still very strong. The disc is extras-less, has a dull audio and video presentation and a cover that screams 'bargain bucket' so if you forget this film ever even existed in a few months you’d be forgiven.
* Note: The below images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 29th August 2011
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo English
Easter Egg: No
Director: Don Roos
Cast: Natalie Portman, Lisa Kudrow, Lauren Ambrose, Anthony Rapp, Scott Cohen, Charlie Tahan,
Length: 98 minutes
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