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Peace, Love & Misunderstanding(2011)
An uptight NYC lawyer takes her two teenagers to her hippie mother's farmhouse upstate for a family vacation.
For more about Peace, Love & Misunderstanding and the Peace, Love & Misunderstanding Blu-ray release, see Peace, Love & Misunderstanding Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on November 11, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: Jane Fonda, Catherine Keener, Elizabeth Olsen, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Chace Crawford
Director: Bruce Beresford
» See full cast & crew
Peace, Love & Misunderstanding Blu-ray Review
Nothing's funny 'bout Peace, Love & Misunderstanding.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, November 11, 2012
If Peace, Love & Misunderstanding were a car, it'd be a rusted, spray-painted VW Bug. If it were an article of clothing, it'd be a droopy tie-dyed t-shirt that smells strongly of B.O. and patchouli and cannabis. If it were a band, it'd be The Band. And if it were any more obvious in it's aging-hippy cliches and affectations, it'd be nigh unwatchable. Directed by Bruce Beresford—the sentimentalism-prone Australian filmmaker behind Tender Mercies and Driving Miss Daisy—this drama-comedy is a dippy multi-generational melange about family and forgiveness and the moral/emotional disconnect between parents and their children. In what would seem to be a casting stroke of genius, Jane Fonda—making an exceedingly rare movie appearance—plays a once-a-hippy-always-a-hippy grandma who lives on a farm in Woodstock, N.Y., sells pot on the side, and throws "full moon parties" with her New Age-y female friends. The problem here is that the part—and indeed everything about the film—is written with such a lack of subtlety that it veers into unintentional self-parody within the first ten minutes. From the punned-up title to the sappy conclusion, Peace, Love & Misunderstanding is about as authentic as a bag of oregano passed off for weed.
Catherine Keener plays middle-aged Manhattanite Diane, a "tight-ass lawyer in need of a soul transplant" who's trying to make sense of her life after her husband—Kyle MacLachlan in a bit part—decides they should be separated. Dragging along her video camera-toting, young-Sasha-Baron-Cohen- lookalike son Jake (Nat Wolff) and "cultured," Walt Whitman-reading, vegetarian daughter Zoe (Elizabeth Olsen), Diane flees upstate to Woodstock, where her loosey-goosey mom has been pretending it's still 1968 for the past fifty years. Jane Fonda's Grace—whose name is oh-so thematically significant—is a gray-haired flower child in flowing garments and turquoise jewelry. She goes to weekly war protests. She "barters her art" to get by. She tends chickens, has a buzzing, fluorescent-lit basement full of pot plants, and sleeps her way through a coterie of like-minded, free-spirited old men. (Why yes, she did have a threesome with Leonard Cohen, and she's happy to tell everyone about it.) She's essentially the polar opposite of her daughter, who rebelled, we surmise, by becoming a staunch conservative, politically and behaviorally. A falling out two decades prior left them estranged—Grace sold some grass to guests at Diane's wedding—but you can rest assured that by the end of the film, their relationship will be mended and Diane will finally be comfortable taking her mom's soulful hippy wisdom to heart.
This isn't a spoiler, it's a warning—there's nothing remotely surprising in Peace, Love & Misunderstanding, which plays out with a saccharine, feel-good fatalism. This is an indie drama on narrative autopilot. Each conflict is oh-so-tidily resolved. Every turn of the plot is announced in advance. The dramatic possibilities are narrowed down to lowest-common-denominator storytelling. Of course Zoe learns that appearances are deceiving when the hot local butcher shop attendant (Gossip Girl's Chase Crawford), who—gasp!—"dismembers animals for a living," turns out to be well-read and passionate about organic farming. Of course Jake overcomes his gawky shyness and turns his vacation videos into an award- winning short film. And of course Diane loosens up and allows herself to finally feel something when local songwriter/furniture maker Jude (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) woos her at a music festival. (They duet "The Weight" on stage, naturally.) Screenwriters Christina Mengert and Joseph Muszynski have no sense of nuance—see how ham-handedly they shove an anti-GMO message into the script—and Bruce Beresford's slack direction does nothing with the blatant, unambiguous material.
He's not the only one to have issues with it. Faced with such broadly sketched and stereotyped roles, the actors have trouble making their characters come alive in any real way. Elizabeth Olsen—so wonderful in last year's Martha Marcy May Marlene—barely registers here. Chase Crawford is just another pretty (boy) face. Natt Wolf treads the fine line between playing an obnoxious character and seeming genuinely obnoxious. And Catherine Keener, in a kind of superficialized version of her part in The Ballad of Jack and Rose, is hopelessly, passionlessly glum. The only ones who seem to be having any fun are Jeffrey Dean Morgan—who looks like he's finally come to accept his newfound status as the poor man's Javier Bardem—and Jane Fonda, who goes cuckoo-batty as a living embodiment of every late-1960s cliche. (Of course her water broke during Jimi Hendrix' set at Woodstock.) But her bug-nuttery isn't enough to keep the film entertaining for any more than short stretches. It's unfortunate, because the core premise—a daughter whose idea of rebellion is to be more conservative than her mom—seems full of dramatic and comedic possibility.
Peace, Love & Misunderstanding Blu-ray, Video Quality
It's all groovy for Peace, Love & Misunderstanding on Blu-ray, where the film features a 1080p/AVC-encoded presentation that's generally sharp, colorful, and free from distractions. Shot digitally using Red One cameras, the film has a clean and nearly noiseless look—without having to rely on DNR or edge enhancement—and source noise remains tempered even during the darkest scenes. (From a normal viewing distance, it's rarely ever visible.) The picture has fleeting moments of softness, but clarity is excellent overall, allowing closeups to reveal fine facial textures and clothing details. Cinematography-wise, the film screams "indie rom-com," with a bright, cheery and arguably over-lit palette, but color is dense and decently graded. There are occasional instances where the exposure blows out highlights a bit, but contrast is mostly even-handed, resting on a base of sufficiently deep blacks. And while the film has been placed on a 25 GB, single-layer disc, it seems to have plenty of room; there are no blatant compression/encode issues to report.
Peace, Love & Misunderstanding Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Expect a low-key but functional listening experience from Peace, Love & Misunderstanding's lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. Considering this is a mostly quiet family drama, the dialogue is the focus here, and it's always well-recorded, nicely balanced in the mix, in easy to understand. Everything else is just window dressing—and there's not much of it. The rear channels aren't used all too often in this front-heavy mix, but you will hear some quiet ambience on occasion—small town street sounds, wind, birds, insect, and other natural noises. I can't recall any distinct cross- channel movements or effects though; everything stays grounded and simple. The "lively piano music" of the score—as the subtitle track describes it—is adequately full and clear, and the incidental tunes sound decent too, although Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Catherine Keener's rendition of "The Weight" is as un-heavy as it gets. The disc includes English SDH and Spanish subtitles, which appear in fluorescent yellow lettering.
Peace, Love & Misunderstanding Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Peace, Love & Misunderstanding's supplements are decidedly slim, limited to the blandly named Featurette (HD, 2:51), which includes snippets of an interview with director Bruce Beresford, along with the film's theatrical trailer (HD, 2:32).
Peace, Love & Misunderstanding Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Like the hippy era itself, Peace, Love & Misunderstanding is well-intentioned but also hopelessly naive and a bit too cornball in its fringe, free- spirited excesses. The stereotypes and cliches abound here, inspiring more eye-rolling and exasperation than insight or laughs. And although casting Jane Fonda as an aging hippy makes perfect sense, the film simply doesn't handle its subject matter—strained inter-generational relationships—with any degree of authenticity. This, combined with the fact that the Blu-ray is short on substantive special features, lead me to suggest, at most, a rental. For a better, more serious take on the subject—one also starring Catherine Keener—try The Ballad of Jack and Rose instead.
Peace, Love & Misunderstanding Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Peace, Love & Misunderstanding Blu-ray - August 27, 2012
IFC Films have officially announced that they will release on Blu-ray director Bruce Beresford's dramedy Peace, Love & Misunderstanding (2011), starring Jane Fonda, Catherine Keener and Elizabeth Olsen. The release will hit retail shelves on October 2.
Peace, Love & Misunderstanding Blu-ray Screenshots
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