A Love Song for Bobby Long (2004)
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Review Date: December 30, 2004
Director: Shainee Gabel
Writer: Shainee Gabel
Producers: Shainee Gabel, David Lancaster, Paul Miller, Bob Yari
John Travolta as Bobby
Scarlett Johansson as Purcy
Gabriel Macht as Lawson
A white trash girl who likes to eat peanut butter out of the jar with M&Ms while watching TV, finds out that her estranged mother has passed away and left her as part-owner of a home in New Orleans, co-owned by a couple of alcoholic strangers, who just happened to be good friends of her mother dearest. The trio don’t much care for one another at first, but over time (and drinks), they begin to soften.
A surprisingly interesting, if sobering, character study focusing on the lives of three broken people brought together by the ugly circumstances of their lives, toiling in the wind, looking for answers at the bottom of a bottle and beyond (Arrow?). I thought this film was going to bore me, but as un-joyous and melancholic as it is, it still managed to keep me watching during its entire two-hour runtime, thanks mostly to the three lead characters, each of which was sympathetic enough to invest oneself into, and the actors playing them, each of whom came through in their respective roles. John Travolta was the biggest surprise for me, considering that I know him so well from other parts, but thanks partly to his physical transformation here, he managed to make me forget all about Vincent Vega and Danny Zuko, and see instead, a decaying old man who’s made one too many mistakes in life and who doesn’t mind drinking to forget them. Scarlett Johansson was also great as the “new girl” in the story, starting from an angry, confused state and ultimately learning much about herself, as well as her past (although her accent seemed to come-and-go like my erections). The third actor in the movie was a guy who I knew nothing about before this film, Gabriel Macht, but who also impressed with a nice turn as the man caught between the two hard-heads. Josh Lucas-light. The film’s overall look and feel also ingratiated me with New Orleans as its fourth character, always wading in the background, with harmonicas and musical interludes in tow.

Nobody’s going to watch this film in order to cheer up, but it does ultimately reach a contemplative level that gives most of its characters their due (although I don’t think the third guy was explored enough). The film also sprinkled in a number of light moments, specifically with Travolta’s character and his oh-so “honest” comments about folks around him. One thing that did gnaw at me throughout the movie was his character’s overuse of quotes from novels though. I understand that his character was like that (being an ex-professor and all), but I just can’t stand people like that. Dude…just say what you mean…stop quoting other more eloquent people saying it in a more poetic way! The film’s ending also felt a tad contrived and I would have liked a deeper meaning to it all, but you know what, it’s a small movie with palpable characters in a generous environment and on the whole, I enjoyed my watch. Not as harsh, it might even be considered a decent bookend to the great BARFLY starring Mickey Rourke, with alcohol treated as the ultimate pain reliever. One thing I would have appreciated though would have been a nudie shot of Johansson. I don’t bring that up as a perverted man (although granted…I am), but as a viewer who can only sit and watch so many scenes of her massive breasts being brandied about in tight shirts, before asking my master for more porridge. But alas, t’was not to be, yet I was satisfied nonetheless. I wouldn’t recommend this movie to anyone looking for a “good ol’ time” or juicy turnabouts here and there, but if character studies featuring a couple of drunks and a hottie with big boobs do it for you, check this film out and find out why so many people turn to the bottle in N’Orleans.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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