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Life Partners (Blu-ray Review)

Life-PartnersLeighton Meester and Gillian Jacobs star in keenly observant comedy Life Partners arriving on Blu-ray from Magnolia Home Entertainment.  It also has Adam Brody, Abby Elliott and Kate McKinnon.  I’m a huge fan of both Jacobs and McKinnon, so this film at least has that going for it in my wheelhouse.  The film is the directorial debut of Susanna Fogel.  It comes based off of a play by the same name, written by Joni Lefkowitz.  Lefkowitz is also the producer on this film.  Fogel and Lefkowitz previously starred together in a web-based series titled Joni & Susanna.  This film also once had the likes of Evan Rachel Wood and Kristen Bell attached to it, but both dropped out when they were pregnant.  Life Partners premiered at the Tribecca Film Festival and had a run on VOD back in November 2014.

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Film 

At 29, the most long-term relationship Sasha and Paige have ever been in is with each other, using their co-dependent friendship as an excuse not to venture out into the dating world alone. But when Paige meets nerdy Tim and starts to get serious for the first time, the nature of their friendship begins to shift. Fearing she’s being cast aside, Sasha tries to keep their relationship the same, but does growing up also mean growing apart?

Well, color me pleasantly surprised.  I did not expect to like this movie as much as I did.  The film is one that really examines its characters and never forgets who and what the story is truly about.  It does feel a little bit long in the tooth (A lot of time seems to pass and many events happen), but it never loses focus.

The film’s two leads are an absolute treat to watch joke around and play off of each other.  Gillian Jacobs I’m a huge fan of but I really didn’t know enough about Leighton Meester to have an opinion.  She actually proved herself a little bit more to me here.  There’s a lot of great chemistry here between the two and you really believe that are people who are actually super close best friends.  I’m also not the world’s biggest Adam Brody fan, but he definitely won me over this time here.  He worked really well.

What I liked a lot about this film is that it knows who this movie is about and squarely lets it be about the two best friends.  It never really derails on any of the entertaining side characters (Abby Elliott gets a fun little run here).  The story allows the characters to solve their own problems on their own accord.

This movie I expected to be some sort of ho hum average indie “comedy”, but it wound up working so much more for me.  It did a good job of playing both sides and agendas of the two leads equally.  A regular film would have had me siding with Gillian Jacob’s character 100%, but there is a legitimate defining of Leighton Meester’s character to give you an understanding of her position and concerns in life.  Those younger than me may see this as vice versa.  Anywho, this is a terrific little film, and I really recommend it.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail: This is a sharp and crisp picture.  Its a bright looking film and features a nice amount of detail.  There’s a really tiny bit of smoothness in a couple areas.  But, really this is a fine, solid digitally shot film transferred to Blu-ray.

Depth:  The picture has a nice 3 dimensional look with good clarity between foreground and background figures.  Movement is smooth and natural.

Black Levels:  Blacks a rich and there was one car sequence that had a little bit of crushing.  Not a lot of detail was hidden.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are nice and bold without being any bit of distraction.  A naturally vibrant flavor to a lot of clothing in the film.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and consistent.  Facial details are clear and feature stubble, wrinkles and blemishes.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics:  This movie isn’t one that’s very demanding of an amazing audio track, but it really gets the job done.  The vocal track is the highlight of it as its prominent and sounds really nice and crisp.  The effects and music provide a nice compliment to it.

Low Frequency Extension:  Not a whole lot provided.  Some songs feature a sub kick, and a car crash and doors closing hard get a little boost.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Mainly ambiance.  There are some nice additional “people sounds” during the parade sequence and some during a couple outdoor dining parts.  The front channels do provide simple movements and accurate volume placements.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Voices are nice, loud and front and center.  Delivered with placement accuracy and clarity.

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Extras 

Behind The Scenes: Cast & Characters (HD, 2:30) – Each cast member briefly gives a description of their character.

Behind The Scenes: Production & Costume Design (HD, 4:46) – A pretty insightful bit with the set designer and costume designer about crafting the sets and clothing to the core of who the characters are.

AXS TV: A Look At Life Partners (HD, 2:32) – The trailer mixed in with interviews from the cast and director.

Trailer (HD, 2:01)

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Summary 

I was incredibly surprised by how good Life Partners was and how attached I was to it.  Maybe it was my low expectations, but I really came out of this enjoying the film and its study and dedication to its lead characters.  Which, I found myself impressed with a couple performers I was pretty indifferent on.  This Blu-ray has a good presentation in both the audio and video department.  The extras really aren’t much of anything, which is a disappointment.  I strongly recommend at least renting the film and if you like it, pick it up when its a good value.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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