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Featured Blu-ray Review: Love Story

February 7th, 2012

Love Story - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

Love Story opened in 1970 and was one of the first films to reach $100 million during its initial run. It also reinvigorated the melodrama and practically created the tearjerker chick flick, at least what we think about the genre now. It earned seven Oscar nominations, winning for Best Score. That said, the film didn't earn great reviews during its initial release and at the moment its Tomatometer Score is under the overall positive level. So who was right?

The Movie

The film begins with narration by Oliver Barrett IV, who says, "What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died?" Spoiler alert: She dies in the end. So who is this this girl? She's Jennifer Cavalieri. Oliver meets Jennifer as he is trying to take out a book from Radcliffe College, a small university for women. Harvard has a much bigger university, but he needs a specific book for a test, and she's giving him a hard time as a result. Insults quickly turn to flirting and they go off for coffee. A few more insults are shared over coffee and Oliver invites Jenny to watch him play hockey. A few more insults after the game and they are in love.

That weekend, Oliver has to head off to another hockey game, but this time he doesn't want Jenny to go see it. He doesn't explain why, but we soon realize what the reason is. Oliver's dad, Oliver Barrett III is at the game and the two men have a tense relationship. Oliver's father is pushing Oliver into becoming a lawyer, something Oliver doesn't have much desire to do. He feels forced to live up to the family expectations.

They fall deeply in love, but there are many obstacles in the way. Jenny is a concert pianist and she has a scholarship to study in Paris for next year. Meanwhile, Oliver is likely going to law school. Jenny thinks that will be the end of their relationship, but Oliver decides to instead propose marriage. When they go to Oliver's family, there's a lot of tension. Later when he tells his father they are getting married, his father reacts poorly and disowns his son cutting him off from the wealth. But they love each other and with a little puck and determination, they can still live happily ever after, right? Not if you remember the opening line of the movie.

This film is supposedly one of the most romantic movies of all time. The AFI ranked the movie the ninth most romantic movie of all time. However, I couldn't stand this movie. I felt the two leads were whiny and obnoxious to each other for far too long at the beginning of the movie. There was a distinct lack of chemistry together and individually they were not sympathetic. Oliver Barrett IV's relationship with his dad seems so old fashioned. Maybe it made sense in 1970, but in 2012 it comes across as artificial.

The term "Melodrama" is not an insult. It simply means a story where the characters' personalities and relationships move the plot instead of major plot developments forcing the characters to act. However, it has become an insult, because too many melodramas relied not on real emotions, but exaggerated emotions. Movies like Love Story are part of the reason Melodrama became an insult.

The Extras

Extras begin with an audio commentary track with Arthur Hiller, the director. It's a solo track, but he is quite energetic, as he discusses the making of the movie, the origins of the story and even his personal history. The only other extras is a 15-minute retrospective, Love Story: A Classic Remembered.

The technical presentation is mixed. The film is more than 40 years old and wasn't a particular expensive movie to make in the first place, so one can forgive the film for the many scenes that are on the soft side, while there are some flecks and lines, especially in the opening credits. I know the opening credits are not important overall, but they do set a bad first impression. On the other hand, there some scenes with good detail levels, while the colors are usually quite strong. The audio is uncomplicated. This is unsurprising, as it was originally done in mono. Still this is likely the best it has looked or sounded since its theatrical run.

The Verdict

Love Story is loved by a lot of people, but it is also hated by nearly as many people. I went in hoping I would enjoy the film, but it wasn't to be. If you are a fan of the film, the Blu-ray won't blow you away in terms of extras or audio / video quality. However, it also only costs $12, which is a reasonable price for this type of film.

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Filed under: Video Review, Love Story