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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

 

directed by Stephen Cone
USA 2015

 

Pastor Bob's (Pat Healy, MAGNOLIA) son Henry (Cole Doman) is turning seventeen today and throwing a pool party and everyone's invited. Childhood friend and unrequited crush Gabe (Joe Keery) spent the night in his bed, sister Autumn (Nina Ganet) is home from Christian college and is more interested in not swimming than studying, Autumn's "pagan" friend Cheyenne (Zoe Tyson) sets her sights on Gabe, awkward Logan (Daniel Kyri) only has eyes for Henry, outcasts Heather (Grace Melon) and Christine (Melanie Neilan) let slip Logan's sexuality to Henry while assuming that surely he must relate, youth leader Keith (Travis A. Knight) has turned up to show off his pregnant wife (Kelly O'Sullivan), and Christian rocker wannabe Jon (Jack Ball) is ready to convert non-believers right there in the pool ("Are you churched?") while girlfriend Emily (Mia Hulen) also has her eyes on Henry. Casting a pall over the evening are the Montgomerys - good-natured Larry (Francis Guinan, HANNIBAL) tends to get a bit too loosened up, sour Bonnie (Hanna Dworkin, BLACK BOX) wants to talk human trafficking and rehabilitating porn stars and prostitutes, repressed Grace (Darci Nalepa) yearns for escape on the level of WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY's elevator bursting out of the rooftops into the clouds, Rose (Meg Thalken, POLTERGEIST III) - widow of Bob's mentor and the megachurch's previous leader - and her son Ricky (Patrick Andrews) who has been ostracized since a rumored attempted suicide attempt and rumored inappropriateness on the last church camping trip (which Keith too willingly spills out to Larry who muses "There sure are a lot of stories"). Seemingly of their own volition, the youths of the party segregate into the devout and the "other" with Henry drawing suspicion by hanging out with the latter or wandering off to listen to a little Duran Duran. Henry's mother Kat (Elizabeth Laidlaw, INTO THE WAKE) is also emotionally distracted until she realizes that her own body issues have had an effect on more than just her own relationship with her husband.

The semi-autobiographical work of Chicago actor/playwright/director Stephen Cone (THE WISE KIDS) presents Henry as a rather passive protagonist, using his birthday party instead of observe the people around him, revealing not a monolithic Christian mindset but a variety of attitudes towards religion and sexuality wrapped up in the personalities of believable characters (striking a nice balance between "We are surely blessed" to begin the day and "They'll get over it" at the possibility of guest taking offense at a little rock music) who have brought their own issues to the party. While there are a couple characters that verge on caricature, they are given nuance by the actors as some reveal that they are exactly as they seem and other surprise the viewer (or shock, with a couple attractive and nice-seeming characters betraying a surprisingly ugly degree of bigotry (and a little racism) even as they smile and vocalize their attitude of "hate the sin, love the sinner." The film does not view the characters as being limited by religion - of the Christian teaching of biology and psychology without evolution, Autumn says it's a little odd but she can think for herself - but it does suggest in the fate of poor Ricky the culmination of too many things skirted around or not addressed at all. Rather than exposing a closed-off world where Henry is best off staying in the closet or escaping, the film reveals that he might have enough emotional and spiritual support from the people around him to withstand the more negative reactions from others whose friendship/love is conditional on him being the same as them. The penultimate sequence between two of his family members is even more moving than the final scene in which Henry comes clean with one who means the most to him. While much of the actors may be unfamiliar to viewers with little experience of Chicago's theater scene - although it looks like several have been day players on television shows filmed in the area like CHICAGO FIRE - Cone has not only assembled an understated yet impressive cast. Particularly noteworthy are Laidlaw and Healy while the younger ones show the potential of being similarly disciplined.

Eric Cotenas

Poster

Theatrical Release: 8 January 2016 (USA)

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DVD Review: Wolfe Video - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Wolfe Video

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:26:30
Video

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 9.6 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 5.1; English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles English SDH, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Wolfe Video

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
� Audio Commentary by director Stephen Cone
� Interview with star Cole Doman (16:9; 11:02)
� Short Film 'Baby' (16:9; 15:21)
� Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 1:55)
� Previews

DVD Release Date: May 3rd, 2016
Amaray

Chapters 9

 

 

 

Comments

Wolfe has provided a high bitrate progressive, anamorphic widescreen encode to this slickly-lensed indie feature. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is generally front-oriented but maintains some atmospheric sounds and party noises in the surrounds along with music when it is present (a 2.0 stereo downmix is also included). Optional English SDH subtitles are also included. On the instructive if somtimes dry commentary track, director Stephen Cone discusses the origins of the project, his religious background, the cast of local talent, changes in pacing and editing from his previous films, and anecdotes about the performers and the shoot. The interview with Doman contrasts his reactions recorded during the first day of shooting with those two years later after he screened the finished edit of the film. Also included is Cone's short film "Baby", a trailer for the feature, and previews for other Wolfe titles (their upcoming "Gay Gatsby" THOSE PEOPLE looks interesting).

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

 

Distribution

Wolfe Video

Region 1 - NTSC

 

 


 




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