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Kino // R // February 6, 2018
List Price: $24.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Tyler Foster | posted February 21, 2018 | E-mail the Author
Angie (Geena Davis) has nothing in particular to complain about: she's got a decent man, Vinnie (James Gandolfini), who is a bit of a dope but mostly sweet; a lifelong best friend, Tina (Aida Turturro), who sticks by her side through thick and thin; and a kindly dad, Frank (Philip Bosco), who is very loving even if he keeps certain things to himself. Then Angie discovers she's pregnant with Vinnie's baby, and it sends her into an emotional tailspin that will transform her entire life. Although Angie is basically happy, her one big emotional wound is the abrupt departure of her mother when she was just a child, leaving her to be raised by a stepmother, Kathy (Jenny O'Hara), with whom Angie does not get along. Learning that she is going to be a mother brings up all sorts of fears and concerns in Angie, and a desire to close the book on her vanished parent once and for all.

Adapted from a novel by Avra Wing, Angie feels like an idea that might've made more sense on the page, where the story could be told in more of an autobiographical style. There are brief bits of voice-over in the film, but there's not much in the way of structure, resulting in a film that is frequently charming, but also decidedly rambling. Despite the talent of Martha Coolidge (Valley Girl, Real Genius) behind the camera, the movie never quite sticks its landings, possibly because it continually redefines (or maybe never defines) what it's actually about. As Angie's pregnancy approaches, there are several jokes about a focal point, a chosen object that Angie will choose and then have in the delivery room to center her attention on while she delivers the child, and it feels that's the sort of thing the movie is ultimately lacking.

Although it doesn't feel like a three-act structure, the film can be roughly divided into three sections: Angie, Angie's pregnancy, and Angie's search for her mother. In the first, we get to know her and her life, starting with a a childhood memory that establishes Angie and Tina's friendship and continuing through to Angie's relationship with Vinnie. Once Angie realizes she's pregnant, she quickly starts to take stock of the things she doesn't like about Vinnie, and finds herself falling in love with another man, Noel (Stephen Rea). Vinnie is -- perhaps surprisingly -- a genuinely decent man, who is excited about the baby and is in love with Angie, but he's not the right man (Vinnie and Angie's big breakup scene is actually quite moving in its quiet simplicity). It's easy to see the type of sophistication and adulthood Angie is attracted to in Noel. Noel, however, is less mature than Angie believes, and his abandonment of her, combined with complications with the baby, prompts her final adventure to see if her mother is still alive.

One obvious issue with the movie as a whole is that Angie's relationship with Noel is both the most satisfying part of the movie, and the most unresolved. There is something sexy and fun about the way that Angie freely chooses to redefine her entire life, and her attraction to Noel -- the sexual electricity she puts off toward him -- is very alluring (not to mention, it helps that Davis and Rea have pretty good chemistry, even when he's being stand-offish). For awhile, Angie feels like a basic story of a woman rediscovering herself, and that her memories with her mother are more of a B-thread that will be resolved with Angie's father and stepmother rather than anyone else. This middle section also arguably has the most of Angie and Tina's friendship, especially in a deftly-written scene that oscillates from drama to comedy and back again. However, Noel is not much of a character, with obvious allusions to some greater secret. Technically, Noel does confess something eventually, but his acknowledgement ends up feeling secondary to the movie setting up the final chapters.

There is enough work in the script, by Todd Graff, to set up a more satisfying resolution to Angie's struggle with her mother's memory than what the film ultimately provides, but the intentionally muted epiphanies in the way that story plays out end up playing as more dull than insightful, and those scenes are followed up by a cliched and frustratingly silly hospital scare that closes out the film. Davis is, as always, charming, and in fits and starts there is a sense of the character coming into focus, but it feels as if the film is so busy describing Angie and the little details that make her up, there's no time to fill in the core of who she is and what she wants. Angie is more of a character type (the "big brassy girl with buried feelings") than a fully fleshed-out character.

The Blu-ray
Angie arrives on Blu-ray with its original poster artwork intact, featuring a couple of images of Geena Davis as the title character (both large and small), over a backdrop of the Brooklyn skyline. It doesn't really say much about the movie -- admittedly, the film is hard to sum up, and even harder in an image, but still. The one-disc release comes in a non-eco Viva Elite Blu-ray case, and there is no insert.

The Video and Audio
Angie was previously released on Blu-ray in a double feature from Mill Creek. I have no idea if this 2.39:1 1080p AVC transfer is the same one used on that disc, but it looks solid, offering a nice colors and a clean print, but stumbles a bit when it comes to finer detail. The image is suspiciously free of much film grain, but skin does not look waxy or scrubbed, so perhaps the appearance is more about the age of the HD master. Sound is a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track that provides a decent surround experience with the music and the dialogue, if nothing revelatory, and there are optional English captions for the deaf and hard of hearing as well. A perfectly good HD presentation on all fronts, with no significant drawbacks.

The Extras
I was surprised to see how many bonus features were included on this Blu-ray, given the DVD had none at all, until I actually started watching them. All of the content here has been ported from a special edition LaserDisc, which results in some slightly odd lumping of content. First up, there is a somewhat dry but informative audio commentary by director Martha Coolidge. As this was recorded back when audio commentaries were perhaps more of a scholarly affair, there's a very professional atmosphere to it that may become dull after awhile, but Coolidge keeps up a good flow and provides plenty of details about her ideas for each scene and what went into making them come to life.

Video extras are where things get a bit complicated. Although they're listed as separate extras on the back of the case, the first one is a combination Cast and Crew Featurette / Trailer / Deleted Scene (18:39), including brief introductory segments with Coolidge before the latter two segments. The featurette is fairly extensive, covering the development of the script, shooting on location, costume design, casting, Davis' research for the role, the film's themes, Coolidge's working style, and more -- there's even an interview with a local who Davis used for accent inspiration. The second video extra is another combo: a Script-to-Screen Comparison / Re-Edited Scenes / Storyboards / Photo Gallery (26:32). Like Coolidge's commentary, there's a staid tone to these supplements that make them sort of monotonous, but it's nice to have the content on the disc.

The original theatrical trailer for Angie is also presented separately, along with bonus trailers for Kino Lorber's releases of Holy Matrimony, Desperately Seeking Susan, and Married to the Mob.

Angie isn't a bad movie, but it never quite gels either, stranding multiple interesting storylines and some strong work by director Martha Coolidge into a pastiche of ingredients as frustratingly unsatisfying as the meals that Angie's stepmother cooks. Those who do enjoy the movie, however, will likely be thrilled to discover the entire slate of LaserDisc features have been ported to Kino Lorber's new Blu-ray edition. Rent it.

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