Jane Fonda playing a grandmother? Having watched mostly her older films like Barbarella and Fun With Dick & Jane in recent years, it's a bit of a shock to see her as an "old person" in Peace, Love and Misunderstanding.
This is the latest film from director Bruce Beresford. It features Catherine Keener as Diane, a lawyer in New York with a husband named Mark (Kyle MacLachlan, who appears in only a few scenes) and two teenage kids, Zoe and Jake (Elizabeth Olsen, younger sister of the famous Olsen Twins, and Nat Wolff of Naked Brothers Band fame and bearing a strong resemblance to Christopher Knight's Peter Brady from The Brady Bunch.)
Shortly after the film begins, Mark tells Diane that he wants a divorce. Diane decides to go up to Woodstock and visit her mother Grace (Fonda), who she has not spoken to in over twenty years. She tells the kids about the divorce only upon arrival, to which Jake replies "About time!"
It turns out Grace was a hippie during the 1960s, having gave birth to Diane during the 1969 Woodstock concert, and has remained one until the present day. Diane has turned out much more civilized and disapproves of her lifestyle. This is the first time Grace has met her grandkids as Diane always feared she would be a bad influence on them, but they take a liking to each other pretty fast.
Grace spends time in the more relaxed atmosphere (the rest of the town and its people haven't changed much since the 60s either) figuring out to do about the divorce situation, and meets a potential new lover, down-to-earth Jude (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Meanwhile the kids bond with their grandmother and learn a few things from her. They also both meet their own love interests in Woodstock, with Jake also shooting documentary footage of almost everything.
I found Peace, Love and Misunderstanding very entertaining, of course after getting over the shock of how old Jane Fonda looks in it. (Miss Fonda has said that her character in this movie is nothing like her in real life, and she had to do a bit of research to get into it, but she does fine here.) I especially enjoyed Nat Wolff's Jake as a film-geek whose grandmother teaches him how to come out of his shell. While some character development leaves a bit to be desired (we don't really know why Grace hasn't spoken to her mother in such a long time or why she decided to bring her kids up to see her, or why her husband decides to divorce her), it's forgivable.
Peace, Love and Misunderstanding is encoded in AVC at 1080P with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The movie was shot digitally with Redcode RAW equipment, and looks excellent on Blu-Ray. While I haven't yet seen a theatrical presentation using digital equipment that was as good as film done properly, I've been amazed at how good digitally-shot movies have looked on Blu-Ray. Peace, Love and Misunderstanding looks like film, with most scenes sharply-focused although I noticed zero film grain. Colors look very natural and there is lots of detail in every shot.
Audio is in 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio. The soundtrack isn't too remarkable, but this type of film doesn't really call for it. Most dialogue is centered with music and ambient sound in the left and right, sometimes in the surrounds but nothing that really stands out. There is one scene where off-screen dialogue is effectively used in the rear channels, I'll let that surprise you when you hear it.
English subtitles done closed-caption style are included along with Spanish subtitles, both using yellow text.
The only real extra is a 2-minute featurette (in 16x9 standard definition with 2-channel sound) with a few comments from the director and cast and some of the same clips from the movie that were featured in the trailer, which is also included in hi-def with 2-channel sound.
The disc opens with trailers for Your Sister's Sister, The Samaritan, First Position and Trishna all in hi-def with 2-channel Dolby Digital. Annoyingly, they must be chapter-skipped through each time the disc is played before the movie can be started.
Peace, Love and Misunderstanding only had a brief theatrical release, but I found it very enjoyable and look forward to viewing it again soon. It looks and sounds great on Blu-Ray, showing what the format can do even for smaller films.
Pictures in this review were not taken from the Blu-Ray disc.
Jesse Skeen is a life-long obsessive media collector (with an unhealthy preoccupation with obsolete and failed formats) and former theater film projectionist. He enjoys watching movies and strives for presenting them perfectly, but lacks the talent to make his own.