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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Comedy > Counterculture > 1970s > Beautiful Ohio (2006/Genius/IFC DVD)

Beautiful Ohio (2006/Genius/IFC DVD)


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



Beautiful Ohio (2006) is not the first film or other work actor Chad Lowe directed, but it is his best to date and a real breakthrough behind the camera, telling the tale of an American family in the early 1970s trying to deal with the generation gap, cultural changes, music changes and the counterculture itself.  William Hurt and Rita Wilson are dead-on as the parents, while their two sons (played very effectively in the teen years by David Call and Thomas McCarthy) are good friends, but the elder Clive (Call) is in his own world and is having the biggest problem communicating with anyone, while he is also a math genius.


He is even seemingly speaking his own language that he shares with his friends, which frustrates his parents and drives his brother to look for the writing and if there is a translation key.  It becomes the impetuous for the story and what is a character study of both the family and the time, including some subtle items that show how families have actually gone backwards since the 1980s.  Ethan Canin’s exceptional screenplay has nuance that so many writers miss, especially when trying to recreate the 1970s.  Though there are some rough patches, they are minor and this is the best film since Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides about the period.  Up to the end, Beautiful Ohio is a pleasant surprise that gets better as it goes along.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image is soft and has some grain, but it is a good looking film and part of it might be an attempt by Lowe and Director of Photography Stephen Kazmierski to be period in subtle ways, which is a plus and helps make this look like the time period.  A Blu-ray would and should bring out more, including how good some of these compositions really are.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is dialogue-based, but Craig Wedren (Velvet Goldmine, The School Of Rock) supplies some great music in his score and the choice of hit records of the time is exceptionally strong and smart.  There are sadly no extras.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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