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</script></div>{/googleAds}A Love Song for Bobby Long is one of those movies that revels in its own rich and gooey atmosphere. Set in the heart of New Orleans, just a cable car's ride from the French Quarter, the film's mood and the story it tells are just as big as any of its characters. The French colonial architecture and the cocoa-colored waters of the mighty Mississip provide a luscious palette on which first-time director Shainee Gabel lays out her artistic vision. This is very important because to understand A Love Song for Bobby Long is to have an emotional experience. It must be felt through a combination of sights, sounds and odors that come together to create a literary playland that dabbles in the writings of Robert Frost, Carson McCullers, and Dylan Thomas. As the story ran its course, I could almost smell the fishy mustiness of the Delta heartland hanging in the sweltering air of "Nawlins."

It quickly becomes evident that Gabel's passionate settings will only be enhanced by the brilliant performances of Scarlett Johansson and John Travolta. Johansson plays Pursy (short for Purslane), a teen dropout who Greyhounds it to New Orleans to attend her mother's funeral. But not only does she miss the event by one day, she also discovers that her mother's house is inhabited by two strange men, the rude and offensive Bobby Long (John Travolta) and a younger but only slightly less offensive Lawson Pines (Gabriel Macht). The men tell Pursy that her mother willed the house to the three of them, when in fact the house is Pursy's outright. Despite a substantially rough beginning, including Bobby's intentional abrasiveness, Pursy decides to stay in the house and make a go at living in New Orleans. Although it's a bit predictable that the three will forge a bond of friendship, it's fun to watch the characters arc as the story develops.

Bobby Long is a former literature professor who, since having taken up with the bottle, whiles his days away playing the guitar and reciting poetry at a nearby vacant lot. He wears a threadbare seersucker suit and a flip-flop on one foot to protect his swollen and badly blackened big toe. His hatefulness towards Pursy begins to soften as the film progresses, and he even takes an interest in furthering Pursy's almost non-existent education. By the time the end of the film rolls around, we've actually come to care for Bobby. We see that he might have been a reputable man at one time in his life, and our sympathetic nature hopes the best for him.

Pursy, a nickname for Purslane Hominy Will, fled her trailer park existence armed with a 9th-grade education, a hankerin' for mini-M&Ms dipped in peanut butter, and a bitter attitude about life in general. She's hoping to better her life in New Orleans but she can't stand her lecherous old drunken geezer roommates. Unable to get much more than a part-time job waitressing at the local bar, Pursy begins to realize that earning a high school education might be her only way up and out. And it just so happens that Bobby and Lawson have (or once had) the mental tools and the professional credentials to tutor her. That is if she can get them off the bottle long enough to clear their pickled-brains.

With his brilliant performance in Love Song for Bobby Long, John Travolta manages to not only redeem himself for his decade-long spate of poor role choices, but he also somehow upstages one of Hollywood's hottest female commodities, Scarlett Johansson. It's not so much that he out-acts her as it is that he out-acts what we expect from him. His character is indeed a bit meatier than Johansson's, but it's clear that Travolta is completely absorbed in his character. He handles Bobby's dialogue with a hammy, almost over-the-top portrayal that reminds us of that college literature professor who lectured in poetic riddles and literary brainteasers.

Gabel purposefully unfolds her story at a pace not much faster than a genuine Southern drawl. But that's OK. It gives us time to take in all the interesting side-characters and delicious surroundings where every shot is filled with Spanish Moss, broken down cemeteries and dilapidated buildings with rusting wrought-iron balconies. And where every day's a good day for front porch sittin'. Lawson and Bobby are forced to face the demons of their past and Pursy's arrival coupled with her yearning to get to know her mother sets everyone on a much-needed path towards redemption.


DVD

DVD Details:

Screen formats: Widescreen Anamorphic 1.85:1

Subtitles: English; French; Spanish; Portuguese; Closed Captioned

Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 5.; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; deleted scenes; director's commentary; cast and crew interview; behind-the-scenes featurette.

* Commentaries:
o With director Shainee Gabel and cinematographer Elliot Davis
* Featurettes:
o Behind the scenes featurette
* Deleted Scenes
* Trailers - Original theatrical trailer for A Love Song for Bobby Long plus trailers for Wild Things, Diamond in the Rough, D.E.B.S., Imaginary Heroes, William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, The Brooke Ellsion Story, Bewitched, 80s Hits, Manny & Lo.

Number of discs: 1

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