Love Happens (Blu-ray)
This is not a romantic comedy. In the previews, Jennifer Aniston was shoved down our throats and this was made to look like a cutesy rom-com where everyone is happy and love conquers all. But this film is actually a wonderful character study on a man that lost his wife and has to go to great lengths to get over her and move on with his life. It’s touching, sad, fascinating and moving without being overly sentimental. And even though Aniston is the lead actress in the film, her role is minimal and her normal, annoying personality is kept in check.
Three years ago, Burke’s wife died in a car crash that he managed to walk away from. Devastated by the loss, Burke wrote a book about how to cope with the loss of a loved one. That book turned into a national phenomenon and now Burke tours the country, doing seminars that help people deal with death. When he finally returns to Seattle (where he lost his wife), he stumbles upon a cute florist (Jennifer Aniston) who manages to get close enough to Burke to realize he hasn’t even begun to try and get over the loss of his wife.
From there, Burke is forced to cope with the feelings, accept his hypocrisy and find a way to move on with his life. This is where Eckhart excels in these small movies; he creates a very relatable character and even if we haven’t experienced a loss, we can at least sympathize with his plight. He shines in big films like THE DARK KNIGHT, but where he really captivates audiences is with his small roles like this and BILL. He has an everyman quality to him that transpires on screen and he makes us feel like he’s one of us and that what he’s going through is something that we could be going through as well.
Screenwriter and director Brandon Camp had his work cut out for him with a movie like this. He had to make Burke likeable but not pathetic. The relationship between Burke and Eloise had to be realistic, but not disrespectful to his late wife. Burke’s confrontation with his feelings had to be natural and not gimmicky. The list goes on, but you can see how this film constantly teetered on the edge of quality storytelling and sappy filmmaking. But Brandon walked that line wonderfully and was able to keep the story grounded without making it hokey.
There were a few elements I could have done without. I thought Judy Greer’s character was a little unnecessary. I like Greer as an actress, but her character was a little distracting in a film like this. If they needed to give Eloise a friend, they should have gone the quiet, background friend instead. Greer was loud and she commands too much of the screen to be effective in such a tiny role.
If you’re like me and you’re expecting this to be another lame, Hollywood romance, please leave that expectation at the door. I think this film will surprise a lot of people that go in with the right expectations and know what they’re getting into. It’s a nice little film and Eckhart shines once again.
Video: The 1.85:1 transfer felt a little saturated at times, but was an overall nice presentation. The film takes place in Seattle (although many scenes were shot in Vancouver) and both cities are notoriously dark and dreary, so there were a lot of grays and dark colors through the film. The use of color was effective and usually shined in the film.
Audio: The 5.1 DTS-HD audio was also very nice, even though this is a dialogue-heavy film. Front channels are primarily used, but the few instances of surround channels were nice.
Commentary with Brandon Camp, Mike Thompson and Rick Solomon: Brandon leads the commentary and the three of them offer a ton of inside quirks in the film, including where they shot various scenes and some of the behind the scenes drama that went on. Overall, this was pretty good commentary from people that are very proud of the film.
Deleted Scenes (13:07): Aside from three really awkward scenes with Eloise’s ex-boyfriend, none of these scenes would’ve impacted the film positively or negatively. But those scenes with the ex were horrible, so a good job to the director or editor that decided to take them out.
Giving Romance a New Look (3:02): For a three minute featurette, this was actually really great. Surprisingly, they used a lot of special effects in such a simple movie. This featurette looks at all of the different scenes and shows them with the effects and without. It was really cool to see the difference.