Willem Dafoe's feature debut The Loveless finds him playing a leather clad motorcycle punk named Vance, who sets off from New York City to meet up with some prison buddies in a small town somewhere in the deep south. Once they hook up, they're going to haul ass down to Daytona to ‘watch'em howl' but one of the bikers breaks the chain on his hog and the gang ends up stuck in the podunk little town until they can get it fixed.
While they're biding their time until the repairs can be made at a local garage, Vance flirts with a waitress who turns out to be a stripper, copulates with an underage girl who drives a Corvette only to get busted by her pervert father, and drives around on his bike a lot. Unfortunately for Vance and his crew, the locals, well the male locals specifically, don't take much of a liking to their kind and they see them as lowlifes, scumbags, and even ‘commies.'
Full of instantly quotable dialogue ("We're going nowhere…. fast!), The Loveless is a slow, dreamy film that bears little resemblance to co-director Kathryn Bigelow's best-known films like, Near Dark (save for some brief similarities in the ending), Point Break or K-19: The Widowmaker. Bigelow co-directed and co-wrote the film with Monty Montgomery, whose most interesting credit is playing The Cowboy in David Lynch's Mulholland Drive.
The film owes more to the juvenile delinquent/motorcycle gangs of the fifties, the decade in which the film is set, than any modern horror film or action film. Teaming up with Bigelow, Dafoe and rockabilly artist/bowling aficionado Robert Gordon (who also provides a few musical numbers on the films soundtrack) are great as the two main biker boys, supplying their parts with equal amounts of menace and cool. The constantly slicked back hair and the penchant for leather is quite over the top and cliché but fits the characters somehow, as they seem far more interested in engines and wheels than the local female populace who seem to be fascinated by the bad boy images they carry.
For all its technical proficiency (the film looks great), oddball characters and strange androgynous moments (when Vance is on top of the girl in the bedroom the two look almost indistinguishable), The Loveless does suffer slightly in the pacing department. The movie takes a good twenty-minutes before it really gets going and even then, it still creeps along. Ultimately though, the cool factor makes it worth checking out and it's an interesting film despite its shortcomings, thanks mainly to the strong visuals, the great soundtrack and the fun performances from both Dafoe and Gordon. If 50's nostalgia is something that interests you and you're okay with that being filtered through a unique eighties aesthetic, odds are pretty good that you'll enjoy this one.
The Loveless arrives on Blu-ray from in a transfer taken from a ‘brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative by Arrow Films, approved by co-writer/co-director Monty Montgomery and director of photography Doyle Smith.' The results are strong. This is still a pretty grainy looking film, as it always has been, but the detail is definitely there that you'd hope to see. Skin tones look nice and colors are reproduced very well. Texture is great, especially in the costumes, and there's good depth to the image. Some minor crush can be spotted in a few of the darker scenes but otherwise, no complains. Compression isn't ever a noticeable problem and the picture is free of any obvious noise reduction or edge enhancement problems.
The English language LPCM Mono track, which comes with optional English subtitles, sounds solid enough. The motorcycle engines have some nice rumble to them and the dialogue is always clean and nicely balanced. The track is free of any hiss or distortion related issues and the film's genuinely cool score sounds very good here. No complains, the movie sounds just fine!
Extras start off with a new audio commentary with co-writer/co-director Monty Montgomery, moderated by Elijah Drenner. It's an interesting track that covers how and why Montgomery and Bigelow came to collaborate on the film and what it was like to work together on it, the casting of Dafoe and the importance of his being in the picture, working with Robert Gordon both as an actor and a musician, the look of the picture, the locations that were used, the costumes and more.
Arrow also supplies a few featurettes starting with No Man's Friend Today: Making The Loveless, which is made up of new video interviews with actors Willem Dafoe, Marin Kanter, Robert Gordon, Phillip Kimbrough and Lawrence Matarese. Here, over the span of thirty-four-minutes, they interviewees discuss their respective roles in the production, what it was like on set, working with the directors, and how they feel about the picture. U.S. 17: Shooting The Loveless is a new video interviews with producers Grafton Nunes and A. Kitman Ho that runs fifteen-minutes and finds the pair talking about how they came to back the picture, the cast and crew and the quality of the finished product. Chrome And Hot Leather: The Look Of The Loveless features new interviews with production designer Lilly Kilvert and director of photography Doyle Smith. In this fifteen-minute piece they talk about, the costumes, the sets and locations and, as the title makes clear, their role in coming up with the film's distinct look. Relentless is new four-minute audio interview with musician Eddy Dixon where he speaks about coming up for the music used in the film. These, combined, cover a fair bit of ground
Rounding out the extras is an image gallery, the film's original theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection. Arrow also packages this with some nice reversible sleeve art and an insert booklet containing credits for the film and the Blu-ray and an essay from Peter Stanfield.
Note that unfortunately the audio commentary from Dafoe and Bigelow that was included on the Blue Underground DVD release has not been ported over to this disc and remains exclusive to that release.
The Loveless is a slow, slice of life film that works based more on the ‘cool' factor and atmosphere more than anything else. Arrow Video does their usual fine job with the Blu-ray release. The presentation is solid and the extras plentiful. Recommended.