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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » A Broken Life
A Broken Life
Starz / Anchor Bay // Unrated // September 23, 2008
List Price: $26.97 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted November 13, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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Review:

While Tom Sizemore isn't going to win an Oscar anytime soon, he did manage a string of good supporting performances in the 1990's in films like "Saving Private Ryan". However, he has largely swam in the B-movie pool for many years, and his latest, "A Broken Life", isn't much of an improvement for the actor. Nor is it for Ving Rhames, who also deserves better than material like this.

The film stars Tom Sizemore as Max, a middle-aged man who has apparently become so depressed that he believes that he should end his suffering. In an attempt to document his last day, Max brings in friend and filmmaker Bud (Corey Sevier), who - while initially hesitant, doesn't take long to decide to go along with the plan, as Max believes that the film will give him some of the kind of fame that he never had. He even tells Bud that he needs a "Blair Witch", and that this is it.

The majority of the movie has the two walking through the city, confronting criminals, meeting various oddballs and saving a person or two as Max discusses his life, talking about his difficulty from childhood onward, and how the world is messed up. Max is seeking revenge against someone before his task is eventually done - and that person is revealed later in the movie - but much of the movie has the two wandering around while talking about how awful the world is. Will he find an answer to his sorrows?

Of the problems I had with the film is that it thinks its philosophical speeches about the state of the world are deep, rich insights when they're simply unpleasant, familiar rants. The film doesn't provide a moving or very insightful look at depression, either.

The constant reliance on an overly melodramatic score also takes away from the drama, as the score is really heavy-handed. Making matters worse is a twist about an hour into the movie involving Bud that's pretty absurd. After 98 minutes of watching a film that I didn't feel had a great deal to offer, the ending doesn't close the story out as well as I'd have liked.


The DVD

VIDEO: The film is presented by Anchor Bay in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Sharpness and detail are perfectly fine, as while the film never looked crystal clear, it did appear at least moderately detailed throughout much of the running time. No print flaws was spotted, but a few minor instances of edge enhancement were seen. Colors were subdued by intent, and appeared accurately presented.

SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation is the bare basics, providing a simple, dialogue-driven mix. Audio quality is fine, with crisp dialogue.

EXTRAS: Director Neil Coombs and producer Grace Kasoka provide an audio commentary for the feature. The two provide a decent track, with Coombs doing much of the talking. Coombs does a good deal of narrating what's going on in the picture, but when the two are not discussing the story, they do provide some decent insights into working with the actors and working on a low budget. We also get a brief behind-the-scenes featurette with cast interviews (11 minutes) and trailer.

Final Thoughts: "A Broken Life"'s core drama isn't particularly well-written and the performances are average at best. However, what really pulls down the film is the melodrama: the score overdoes it and the film has a number of Big Emotional Speeches. The DVD offers fine audio/video quality, as well as a few extras. Still, I just found little about the film engaging.
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