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Sometimes when I see films like Hush or another older catalog titles that you are seeing for the first time in years or first time seeing it at all, I tend to play a game when watching the film. The game is called "Remember When?" and involves wondering when a movie or performer in it used to either not have a personality trait or face a reality that they might have now. It certainly makes watching things like this a little more fun than being subjected to their banalities.
Before we get to the game, a word on Hush though. Written and directed by Jonathan Darby, whose work on this film appears to be his only feature film credit before or since, the film stars Gwyneth Paltrow (Country Strong), who plays Helen, a young twenty something who is in a relationship with Jackson (Johnathon Schaech, That Thing You Do!). The two are so in love that Jackson decides to bring Helen home to meet his mother Martha (Jessica Lange, Big Fish). Martha lives in an expansive country estate by herself, her husband leaving her and Jackson years ago, and Helen is the first woman in a while (or possibly ever) that Jackson has brought home to mother, showing her that Helen might possibly be the proverbial "one" over a holiday break. Helen is charmed by Martha and the feeling appears to be mutual, though a chance meeting with the mother of Martha's husband (Nina Foch, Spartacus) starts to plant some seeds of doubt in her mind. And as Helen learns more about Martha, she becomes worried not just for Jackson but for herself as well.
So about this "Remember When?" game. Remember when Lange could act? It seems like ages ago when she won an Oscar for Tootsie and her performances fluctuated between charming and outstanding. What the heck happened here? In Hush the chance for her to play the prototypical passive-aggressive mother was there and she either declined it or wanted to portray Martha as a protagonist who doesn't really do much, other than hide a story that doesn't make her all that scary to be honest. As far as her cinematic son goes, remember when Schaech was in That Thing You Do! and you kind of had that feeling that among the band members he seemed like the winkest link dramatically? That rears its ugly head here, with a personal revelation by him that evolves into the slowest personal expression of rage that I can ever recall seeing. And that anger made me and my wife laugh out loud when we saw it. He didn't have the chops in his big break and I'm not sure why anyone thought he'd have them here.
As far as Paltrow goes, remember when she won the Oscar? She won it shortly after playing Helen and as far as being a sympathetic figure goes, she doesn't have much of mine here. As a character, Helen is pretty bland and she does nothing to elevate that from the screenplay. She appears to be going by the numbers in the role and despite wearing a pregnancy belly in the second act, doesn't really act all that pregnant. And speaking of said screenplay, combined with his direction, Darby directs a film that is simply not interesting. The mother seems a little on the pervy side, though hardly the psychopath I'm guessing he wanted her to be to viewers. The characters aren't well defined and as a result the performers aren't compelled to go full-on with them. It's sad too, because as I later found out the film was shot near my hometown (and around Lange's residence), and no level of civic pride can distract me from being revolted by this film.
There is one more "Remember When?" that I would like to play here but I unfortunately can't. With these bland and sometimes comical performances trying to prop up a script of balsa wood-strength, I wish I could remember when I didn't see Hush, but I guess I'll have to put it out of my mind as quickly as possible instead.The Blu-ray Disc:
Hush comes to Blu-ray with an AVC encoded 1.85:1 presentation that looks fine, though hardly memorable. With a sharper presentation the Virginia wine country could have had some more/better justice done to it, but I'll take what I can get here. Detail is lacking in the foreground and background, but flesh tones and the greens of the land look accurate without any issues. There is a small note of overblown whites at times, though it's not much of a distraction. Blacks look decent and there is a visible layer of film grain when watching the film. I wasn't blown away when viewing this, the transfer looks just okay.The Sound:
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless for the feature. Like the video, there really isn't much to work yourself in a lather for here, almost everything occurs in the front of the theatre, with little in the way of ambient or directional effects to show off the soundstage or provide a worthwhile level of immersion during listening. Dialogue sounds consistent for much of the film and doesn't require any noticeable adjustment, and the rear channels stay mostly dormant (along with the subwoofer), save for an occasional scene. The soundtrack isn't revelatory by any means, just does what's asked of it.Extras:
Much like the standard definition disc, the trailer is the only thing here.Final Thoughts:
Hush is like a romantic partner who doesn't do anything, just lays there. There's no imagination or creativity by the creative portion of the production and thus, no reason to be interested. Technically it's merely average and is barren on the supplemental side, and as for watching it, well I can always drive a half hour to look at the countryside while forgetting this thing ever happened, so I hope the rest of you can do the same.