DVD and Blu-ray film reviews: From Olive Kitteridge to The Best of Me

HBO’s outstanding, poignant adaptation of Elizabeth Strout’s novel, starring Bill Murray and John Gallagher Jnr, towers over this week’s other DVD releases

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The Independent Culture

Olive Kitteridge (15) Various directors DVD/Blu-ray (231mins)

“I’m waiting for the dog to die so I can shoot myself.” The opening sequence watches Olive Kitteridge (Frances McDormand) preparing to shoot herself, before we are transported back 25 years to a middle-aged Olive fussing over household duties and discarding a Valentine’s card from her husband (Richard Jenkins). Olive isn’t warm. She’s prickly, honest and, more crucially, depressed – and McDormand beautifully captures all the perplexities of this acid-tongued teacher married to a gentle pharmacist in 1960s Maine. HBO’s outstanding, poignant adaptation of Elizabeth Strout’s novel, also starring Bill Murray and John Gallagher Jnr, towers over this week’s other DVD releases.


Magic in the Moonlight (12) Woody Allen DVD/Blu-ray (97mins)

Squeeze your eyes shut and Colin Firth’s magician here sounds like Basil Fawlty at his most pompous. Firth is not at his most sympathetic in Woody Allen’s flimsy comedy, set on the Côte d’Azur in 1928 and concerned with the flirtations of cynical Stanley (Firth) and “psychic” Sophie (Emma Stone, floundering – and she never flounders). The age gap between them is 28 years; standard for Hollywood, and it doesn’t help in this forgettable slice of Allen. At one point Stanley exclaims, “What utter bilge”: but for Darius Khondji’s sumptuous cinematography, bilge is right.


The Rewrite (12) Marc Lawrence DVD/Blu-ray (107mins)

Is Hugh Grant’s latest fish-out-of-water romcom predictable? Yes. Does it matter? Nope. It’s quite soothing, with more than enough decent quips and charm to keep you interested. Grant plays a failing screenwriter, once lauded in LA but now forced to take up a teaching position in sleepy Binghamton. He exploits his position to ogle the prettiest students until he realises, thanks to Marisa Tomei’s perky pupil, that he gets a kick out of being a teacher. Grant and Tomei’s chemistry and comic timing are impeccable.


The Best of Me (12) Michael Hoffman DVD/Blu-ray (118mins)

The latest Nicholas Sparks adaptation (The Notebook) is soppy, daft and clichéd, but not without its merits, notably winsome performances from Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato as teenage lovers who fall foul of scumbags in 1990s America. James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan are less compelling as older versions of the tragic coupling. Cheesier than a cheesecake with Camembert on top.


The Overnighters (12) Jesse Moss DVD/Blu-ray (102mins)

“To be human is to serve,” maintains altruistic pastor Jay Reinke, who permits legions of displaced men to sleep at his Lutheran church in Williston. The North Dakota town’s controversial fracking industry has attracted unemployed men from all over the US desperate for work. Reinke is exceptionally compassionate, heroic even, but he has to face up to community anger and his own personal demons in Jesse Moss’s absorbing documentary.