Love Song for
Bobby Long, A
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Date: April 19, 2005
Review posted: April 21, 2005
Upon hearing of her mother’s death, jaded teenage
loner Purslane Hominy Will (Scarlett Johansson) returns to New
Orleans for the first time in years, ready to reclaim her
childhood home. Expecting to find her late mother’s house
abandoned, Persy is shocked to discover that it is inhabited by
two of her mother’s friends: Bobby Long (John Travolta), a former
literature professor, and his young protégé, Lawson Pines (Gabriel
Macht). Pursy, Bobby Long and Lawson are forced to live
together. Yet as time passes, their tenuous, makeshift
arrangement unearths a series of buried personal secrets that
challenge their bonds, and reveal how inextricably their lives are
Persy has not
exactly made the most of herself. Languishing in a trailer in Panama
City, Florida – “The Redneck Riviera,” as Bobby Long calls it – she is
stuffing her face with junk food and braining out in front of the
television when we first meet her, when her boyfriend tells her that
“some guy” called, and that Persy’s mother is dead. He offers to
console her: “Why don’t you cook me some dinner and I’ll go rent us a
porno,” he says. Somehow, Persy finds the courage to leave this
charmer and heads back to New Orleans, where she grew up.
used to be an English professor at Auburn, his glory days, which he
relives through Lawson. Lawson was Bobby’s T.A., and job has turned
from grading papers to walking Bobby through the aftermath of
tragedy. Lawson comes from privelige; he is Bobby with class and
humility, and he is writing Bobby’s life story, an ongoing process.
Bobby is a great storyteller, and he has created a fantasy around
himself, a protective shell of southern charm and old quotes; he has
made a character of himself. Lawson’s book about Bobby is itself a
fiction. The two men need each other; they are stuck in a
teacher-student relationship that neither of them can get out from
under. Bobby is afraid that Lawson will leave him and he will die
alone. The book the two are working on is destined never to be
finished. The writing must go on. When the book is finished, so are
Bobby and Lawson.
Persy has her
own protective shell, the hard edge she presents to the world. She
has been in limbo for some time. She obviously never had a close
relationship with her mother, Lorraine, and has a low opinion of her.
Persy is at a point in her life where she is no longer sure if the
good memories she has from childhood are real, or if she just dreamed
them up. As she meets her mother’s friends, we see that not only does
she not know her mother, Persy does not really know herself.
performances are what make this film worth seeing. The story moves
along at its own predictable pace, and the revelations are far from
stunning. There is a familiarity to the events of the film that take
away some of the power, but the acting is never off key. Travolta is
strong as Bobby Long. At times he seems to be phoning it in, but he
is never less than compelling. Travolta is well complimented by
Gabriel Macht (The Recruit, Grand Theft Parsons), who gives a
complex performance as Bobby’s T.A.-for-life. The stand out here is
Scarlett Johanson, who covers more emotional range in this film than
most actresses do in ten.
A Love Song
For Bobby Long is not a
great film, and it is certainly nothing new, but it is highly
watchable, if only for the memorable work by this talented cast and
the stunning, vibrant photography.
Love Song For Bobby Long
is presented in the original 1.85:1 shooting ratio. The photography
is one of the best things about this film, and the full range of
colors is exceptionally translated. The black and white levels are
well balanced, bringing the full vibrancy of the local New Orleans
color to life. The overall transfer is pristine.
DVD is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital, with language tracks in
English, French and Portuguese. The presentation here is quite good,
with wide, clear dispersal. This is mostly a quiet film, but the
audio really shows itself off during any scenes with live music.
Commentary With Director and Cinematographer:
Gabel and Director of Photography Elliot Davis, neither of whom have
the most electric personalities, talk about shooting the film. Davis
talks the most, giving much interesting detail about the photography.
Scenes: Eight deleted and extended scenes, none of which are very long. There
is so little here, in fact, that this feature is of little interest.
Scenes of A Love Song For Bobby Long: The cast and director talk about the evolution of the film, the
characters, shooting on location, and other tidbits about the making
of the film. A pretty lifeless featurette, with the exception of
Travolta. He comes off really stoned, so it is kind of funny to hear
him say things like, “I’m more gregarious.”
A Love Song For Bobby Long
is a highly watchable film with memorable acting all around. The
special features are detailed but dull, and it would be hard to
recommend this as a purchase. For something to watch, there are worse
VERDICT: RENT IT
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