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Featured DVD Review: Death in Love

January 28th, 2010

Death in Love - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

This movie was written and directed by Boaz Yakin, who previously made Remember the Titans, which is one of my favorite films in the genre. He has also written a number of movies, including the upcoming Prince of Persia adaptation. Death in Love is a different kind of movie. It is a lot more personal. But does that guarantee a good outcome?

The film starts in World War II at a concentration camp where we see a woman saving herself by seducing the Nazi doctor who is experimenting on prisoners there. Cut to the 1990s and we see the same woman, Jacqueline Bisset, married to a different man and with two grown sons. Josh Lucas is a "talent agent" for a modeling company that is little more than a scam to take money from young women looking to break into the business. He's in a dysfunctional relationship with a woman that is his boss there, well, beyond dysfunctional and into the realm of violence. His brother, Lukas Haas, is even less emotionally well-developed and deals with OCD among other mental problems. Into this unstable family, the Nazi doctor returns quite by accident. In a movie about cycles and how we repeat our past mistakes, can these characters learn and move forward?

Like I said previously, this is obviously a very personal movie; however, it is personal in the wrong way. It felt like watching someone else's therapy sessions. I understand the idea of filmmaking as catharsis, or any creative outlet as catharsis, but as a viewer, I don't want to watch someone else's therapy session. It's not that I lack empathy. Indeed, having empathy makes it worse, because you feel for characters who you know will never learn and therefore you can not help. This movie might be cathartic for Boaz Yakin, but only because he is dumping his issues on the moviegoing audience without giving them any hint that there will be a pleasant resolution, or any hint that there can ever be a pleasant resolution. Like Morena Baccarin's character says in the beginning, I can do without favors like that.

Extras on the DVD start with an audio commentary track with director Boaz Yakin and actor Josh Lucas, the latter using it as an opportunity to interview the former. There are five short interviews with the main cast and the writer / director, but at barely more than two minutes on average, there's little to be learned here. Finally there are five featurettes that can be watched as one 26-minute long piece. There are featurettes on the second unit work, the numerous sex scenes, the rehearsal, and two on the film's premiere at Sundance and the Q&A session afterward.

I do not have the Blu-ray, but it is cheaper than the DVD on, so it is definitely the better deal if you are interested in buying.

The Verdict

Death in Love earned mixed reviews with some critics loving its daring nature. Others thought it was pretentious, difficult to watch, and quite frankly too personal to be effective. The extras on the DVD and the Blu-ray are better than expected given the film's short theatrical run, but this is not a movie that most will enjoy, and if you are interested in it, I would suggest renting first.

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Filed under: Video Review, Death in Love