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A Love Song for Bobby Long

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Irv Slifkin -- Video Business, 3/2/2005


Color, R (mature themes, language), 120 min., CC, DVD $26.96, VHS rental

Street: April 19, Prebook: March 17

DVD: director/cinematographer's commentary, deleted scenes, featurette

First Run: L, Dec. 2004, <$1 mil.

Cast: John Travolta (Be Cool), Scarlett Johannson (Lost in Translation), Gabriel Macht (The Recruit), Deborah Kara Unger (Stander)

Director: Shainee Gabel


Purslane (Johannson), the estranged daughter of a recently deceased blues singer, returns to her New Orleans home, which is now occupied by Bobby (Travolta), an alcoholic literature professor, and Lawson (Macht), his former student. The three broken souls attempt to help each other, but hidden secrets from all of their pasts eventually threaten their relationships. An atmospheric drama of screwed-up friendships and family ties set amidst empty pints of downed booze and ashtrays of smoked cigarettes, this film huffs and puffs to bring Tennessee Williams' or Carson McCullers' brand of Southern fried pathos back to life. But despite everyone's best efforts, it ultimately falls short. Travolta, with white hair and homespun accent, obviously took the part to stretch his acting chops, but it's Johannson, nominated for a Golden Globe for her turn as the sexy high school dropout looking for a second chance, and Macht, as the whiskey-soaked wannabe writer, who steal the show. Literary references are thrown about like ping pong balls, trying to add depth to the proceedings, but instead they only add weight to already heavy material. Retailers should note, however, that it's still likely that Long will find a decent home audience because of its name cast.

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