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Crystal River is the sort of deadly earnest, ham-handed tripe that regularly clogs up the Lifetime channel or WE or Oxygen or whatever other gyno-centric cable offering you'd care to name. It's not particularly well acted, blazingly original or even remotely compelling, but those who have an affinity for well-intentioned indie films (and an iron will) may find something redeeming amid all this overblown mess.
Starring Sean Patrick Flannery (just when you think you can't fall any further ...) and Emily Carpenter (whose only other credit is another indie film, 1999's Southern Heart ; she penned this gem herself), Crystal River is a down-home slice of life story that follows Davie Nance (Carpenter), a woman reeling from a recent miscarriage. Faced with that reality, she turns away from her husband Paul (Robert Pralgo) and toward to her neighbor, Clay Arrendal (Flannery), a predictably handsome dude. Unsurprisingly, she's faced with either remaining faithful to Paul or throwing it all away and taking up with Clay ... gee, decisions, decisions ...
Carpenter was heavily involved in the making of this film -- in addition to writing the screenplay and co-starring, she's an executive producer -- and I'd argue that, of all the actors, she's probably the weakest link. She's got relatively little chemistry with Flannery (who mugs his way through the film for all he's worth) and delivers some really painful line readings (although she's certainly not alone in that department).
I searched for something -- anything -- positive to say about Crystal River and came up empty. I'm sure Carpenter and company are nice people who mean well and want to entertain, but this is a film that just doesn't reward the time you put into it. It's not an unique spin on a timeless tale nor is it populated with characters that engage or even interest viewers. In short, it's a waterlogged dud.The DVD
A low-budget affair, Crystal River bows on DVD with a passable 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that certainly has its limitations -- sharpness and fine detail are problematic throughout the film and there's a faint digital noise plaguing most scenes. All things considered, it's probably as good as the film will ever look, but that's not saying much.The Audio:
Woody Pak's overwrought score underlines practically every scene, so perhaps I should be grateful it's just a Dolby 2.0 stereo track and not room-filling Dolby Digital 5.1. Dialogue often sounds tinny and the whole soundtrack can feel a bit thin at times, but everyone's heard clearly, for the most part, and there's not any glaring aural deficiencies.The Extras:
The only supplements are a four minute, 51 second blooper reel (presented in non-anamorphic widescreen) and a seven minute, six second behind the scenes featurette (presented in fullscreen) that simply provides narration-free atmosphere, accompanied by some cloying music.Final Thoughts:
Crystal River is the sort of deadly earnest, ham-handed tripe that regularly clogs up the Lifetime channel or WE or Oxygen or whatever other gyno-centric cable offering you'd care to name. It's not particularly well acted, blazingly original or even remotely compelling, but those who have an affinity for well-intentioned indie films (and an iron will) may find something redeeming amid all this overblown mess. Skip it.