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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Drama > Love, Ludlow (2005/Comedy/Polychrome DVD)

Love, Ludlow


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Film: B



For years, all the boutique divisions of the major film studios kept promising over and over that they had the slice of life comedy everyone had been waiting for, yet they were all pretty much duds.  Even successes like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Muriel’s Wedding or lesser successes were more interested in the tired and very dated story of getting a couple wed than if they loved each other and what that meant.  The phoniness of getting all dressed up for the “big day” almost becomes a spoof of itself.  With Love, Ludlow (2005), Adrienne Weiss proves to be possibly a hot new director on the rise, with David L. Paterson’s terrific screenplay (from his own stage play) in hand.


The story involves the hard-working Myra (a charming, hilarious breakthrough performance by Alicia Goranson) taking temp jobs all over the place to both survive and help support her emotionally disturbed and troubled brother Ludlow (Brendan Sexton III, in a comically brilliant performance) who has problems functioning normally under almost any circumstances.  Instead of a Rain Man-type story, with its serious drama punctuated by offbeat comedy, or similar films about the ill (like the 1988 feature Dominick & Eugene, which is more serious), this is a comedy that acknowledges the problem without wallowing in it or trivializing it.  Ludlow’s condition is never ignored, though some may feel it is not dealt with enough, it also seemed the script was pointing out the thin line between his condition and the eccentricities of the others around him.


Living in their apartment, Myra has become a semi-parent to him, but it is still a relatively healthier brother/sister relationship with slight dysfunction.  At her latest temp assignment, she meets Reggie (the underappreciated David Eigenberg) who she takes as just another guy trying to BS and put the make on her.  He comes across this way to her without him even trying, then shifts gears with polite persistence until she agrees to a get-together.  This happens with some good results, but when they return home, Ludlow is already having issues with abandonment and thee interplay that follows is comically brilliant time and time again.  Unlike recent stabs as anything close to screwball comedy like some recent Coen Brothers efforts, this is the closest we have seen to the real thing in a very long time, even if gender lines are not challenged much.  Instead, it focuses on the thin lines of sanity and every time a joke or remarkable piece of comic timing occurs, it is because the characters are so alive and three dimensional.


Running about 90 minutes, it could have gone on for another hour, but the budget likely stopped that.  The casting is amazing and chemistry great.  You believe all the people, their world views, attitudes, hopes, dreams, pain, laughter and lives.  It is all dead on, not held back by self-censorship, political correctness and infantalization.  When anyone acts childish, silly or confused, it is out of a true sense of growth, frustration or adultness.  The film is never condescending and though we have seen a few things here before, half the fun of this film is going through what the characters say and do, expressing thoughts, ideas and feelings long overdue.  Only receiving limited theatrical distribution and not enough critical support from critics that seem increasingly clueless (when the are not outright quote-whores), Love, Ludlow (like Cinderella Man) is another film whose title is hopefully not repelling audiences away.  This is a great independent comedy that is at least a minor classic and never have I wanted to see a sequel so bad since Cameron Crowe’s 1988 breakthrough film …Say Anything.  Yes, it is that good!


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1/16 X 9 image is a bit grainy and was shot in Super 16mm on Kodak film stocks, then digitally enhanced like the recent Hustle & Flow.  Either way, cinematographer Rubin O’Malley gets the camera in there, bring the narrative and performances home with a unique look and feel like no other such film before.  It’s combination of slightly dark and slightly grainy with the locations gives just enough of a real edge without being cliché in the too dark or too light approach.  An HD transfer is bound to show even more of how good this looks.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound has no surrounds, but captures the great dialogue and performances well and was theatrical Dolby as well, though the mix began with the Digitrac Digital Audio System.  There are no real surrounds and the package does not claim this, but the dialogue comes through loud and clear enough.  Extras include stills, too-brief bios of the actors, the original theatrical trailer and several deleted/alternate scenes.  Some of them were good enough to even stay in the film for a change.  Don’t miss this one!



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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