Beneath the Harvest Sky Blu-ray Review
Generally a character study has to be interested with its own characters. There’s the impulsive Casper (Cohen), whom BENEATH THE HARVEST SKY appears to be more interested in showing, being an unlikeable punk with a quick temper. Then the Dominic (McAuliffe), the more likeable of the two, seems mute and calm in the face of fellow family members and difficult situations. Separately, they’re uninteresting to watch, but in their on-screen moments, they’re rambunctious, but fun, teens to watch.
They both aspire to leave their small town life in Maine and move somewhere grander, even though they seem a lot more comfortable in the sprawling woods of the Northeast. When they’re not making a potato gun, damaging abandoned property, and going on a moose safari (it looks fun its own juvenile way), they’re dealing with their own personal problems, and obviously Casper is going to have more of them with a drug peddling father and a pregnant girlfriend. And obviously…Dominic’s family is going to view Dominic’s friendship with Casper as the reason things are going awry in his life. They’re probably right too.
Casper’s home life plot is unnecessarily woven into the movie without a plot heavy handedly. It’s used so that the final part of the movie can move into motion, but we know the movie will end with Casper and Dominic finally realizing they’ve had enough of their life and family. There’s so many other more naturalistic ways to reach this conclusion, especially after showing Casper with a 15-year-old pregnant girlfriend and Oxycontin selling dad. Realizing an unfortunate situation like would be enough for anyone to want to finally move on with his best friend.
BENEATH THE HARVEST SKY plants some small town clichés, but doesn’t bother growing them into anything unique. Because the town sits so close to the Canadian border, there’s a couple of cheesy jabs at our neighbors to the North along with sprinkles of the stereotypical language that we’ve come to expect from movies that use Canadian mannerisms for a cheap joke.
Stepping away from the story and its peculiar take on things, the technical aspects of this movie are nauseating. Gaudet and Pullapilly, whose only other work appears to be documentaries, are mistaking intentional carelessness that adds an indie touch when holding a shot with what we saw in CLOVERFIELD. It’s so bad it makes you wonder if either of them owns a tripod. Also the discolored look attached to everything takes away from the surrounding beauty that is the New England region in the fall.
I wish I could tell if BENEATH THE HARVEST SKY was a passion project for two people who yearned for their youthful days or if it’s simply a misguided look at growing up in a small town. I, by no means, grew up in a small town. But having known people from that type of living situation, I do not identify with Casper or Dominic. That’s not to say that someone out there does. While Gaudet and Pullapilly may be applauded for their efforts in this movie, it seems like they should just stick with real people telling a real story.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 1:85:1) From what I’ve deciphered, this is shot in the beautiful state of Maine and the presentation allows us to experience the wonderful changing of the seasons. Despite some lazy camera work, everything comes through clear.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) What little music there is, is perfectly embedded below everything else. The dialogue is evenly matched between characters and you won’t ever have to touch your volume button to adapt to the changing scenes or sounds.
Deleted Scenes (10:00): This feature does not allow you to play these scenes separately, but only as one long lump. You can skip ahead, but a minor inconvenience on a bad Blu-ray can seem worse than it actually is. They’re either extended or actual deleted scenes from the movie. Considering the lengthy run time of the movie, it’s a surprise there wasn’t more on the cutting room floor.
Inside the LaJoie Farm (2:32): About a minute in I was incredibly confused and puzzled. It felt like it was a fake advertisement, but with a little bit of Internet sleuthing, I’ve come to find out that Terra Foods partnered with this movie. So I guess if you want to watched a two and a half minute PSA for healthy potato chips, have at it.
Behind the Scenes, Part 1 (1:53): Looking for another “the more you know” segment? This is it. It’s less than two minutes. And about 20 seconds of it may actually be dedicated to an actual look at what happens behind the scenes. The rest of it is an awkward, forced advertisement.
Behind the Scenes, Part 2 (2:23): Not sure why this is split up into two parts, but this is part three of a really bad batch of advertising for Terra Chips. Looking for a non-commercialized look at the film? Too bad. You’re stuck with more Terra Chips pandering. This feature ends with “We think this is just a very, very special film. One that film goers are gonna walk away and really talk about and think about for weeks and months to follow and we hope that same experience comes when they try the Terra potato chips that come from the farm that’s featured in this film.” Ugh.