Years after the accidental death of her folk-singer husband, Hannah (Rebecca Hall) has yet to fully accept her small-town life without him. Then she is approached by a charming New York writer (Jason Sudeikis), intent on penning a biography of her late husband’s life, and Hannah finds herself opening up again. Also featuring performances by Dianna Agron, Blythe Danner, Griffin Dunne, Joe Manganiello, and Richard Masur.
For whatever reason, there are a lot of performers with a strong comedy background that do very well when it comes to acting in dramatic roles. Think about it: Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, Tom Hanks, and – more recently – Steve Carell have all done dramas that arguably are better than some of their comedic roles. So I was anxious to see how Jason Sudeikis would do in 'Tumbledown', a movie that – while not an all-out drama – certainly asks the actor to tone down his comedy skills quite a bit.
Sadly, for Sudeikis – and the rest of the actors involved – this wasn't the best choice of projects to exercise those dramatic muscles. There's nothing particularly wrong with the acting here, it's the screenplay – which tries to provide the ol' "girl meets boy" scenario with a few different story ideas and twists. However, there's nothing really particularly original about the movie (despite the angle it takes), nor is there great chemistry between the two leads. Because of this, 'Tumbledown' is a hard movie to sit through – not because it's necessarily bad, but because it's so intensely familiar. I confess I found myself bored with the whole affair.
Rebecca Hall (even more so than Sudeikis) is the lead in 'Tumbledown', playing widow Hannah, whose husband was a famous folk singer (his songs populate the movie's soundtrack and despite having no screen time – aside from a few quick flashback glimpses and photographs – is actually this movie's most interesting character) and whom she has never been able to get over (well, she actually has, but I'll get to that in a bit). Sudeikis plays college professor Andrew McCabe, who is interested in writing a book on Hannah's late husband, but she doesn't want to give him the time of day.
However, when Hannah hits a roadblock in her own attempts to write a biography about her lost love, she decides to bring Andrew in so the two of them can work on the book together. You don't get any bonus points for guessing as the two delve into their book project, Hannah starts to open up to Andrew and realize that she's able to move on with her life and accept the possibility of a new relationship.
That would all be sweet and romantic if it weren't for the fact that these two characters already have perfectly acceptable people in their lives. Hannah has been banging (for lack of a more subtle term) a neighbor (played by Joe Manganiello – whom I hear most gals find appealing) and despite the fact that their relationship hasn't gone beyond the whole friends-with-benefits concept, he's a nice enough guy (although the movie can't help but turn him into a jealous lover when Andrew shows up in Hannah's life). Even worse is the fact that Andrew has a really sweet and supportive girlfriend already (played by Dianna Agron), who he more or less unceremoniously dumps for no good reason other than the fact that he's got goo-goo eyes for Hannah. Whether the writers intend it or not, this almost instantly makes the Andrew character kind of a jerk.
And so we're asked to spend the movie with these two lead characters, who we're not particularly enamored with and whose future we really can't invest in because the movie doesn't make them interesting enough or (frankly) likeable enough to really root for. 'Tumbledown' is by no means a horrible movie, but it's just so average...so obvious in its plotting...that I can't recommend this one. You won't be missing out by giving it a pass.
The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Tumbledown' tumbles on to Blu-ray in an eco-friendly Elite keepcase, which houses the 25GB single-layer disc with no inserts. The Blu-ray is front-loaded with a trailer for Just Before I Go. The main menu is a montage of footage from the movie, with menu selections horizontally across the bottom of the screen.
The Blu-ray is Region A locked.
'Tumbledown' was shot digitally on the Arri Alexa, and is presented on Blu-ray in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The video here is pretty hit or miss. At times, a lot of depth and detail is evident and the image has some nice "pop" to it. However, other scenes are pretty flat looking overall. Surprisingly, there's no rhyme or reason as to location when it comes to these problems. Equal amounts of indoor and outdoor sequences have trouble with the visuals. I did notice that when the scene seems to rely on natural lighting indoors, it looks a little flatter. The result is a very inconsistent looking movie.
The biggest issue when it comes to technical glitches is aliasing. You can see it a lot in 'Tumbledown', as items in the background shimmer during pans across rooms or the countryside. Other problems like banding or excessive noise aren't an issue, although mild noise does creep into some of the darker indoor scenes.
This isn't a horrible transfer by any means and it's actually about what one would expect from a smaller, less notable release such as this one. It proves serviceable enough for the presentation.
An English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track is the only audio option on this release and, as one might expect, it's most notable during the various songs (by Damien Jurado) that accompany the soundtrack. For the most part, the audio is up-front (the dialogue is all front and center), with the rears being used for some ambient noises, such as the sound of water splashing on a lake as a rowboat is used or birds chirping in the background. There's never a real feeling of immersion in the track, nor is there any noticeable use of directionality. Still, this is a solid track with no evident problems with the mix and no glaring glitches.
Subtitles are available in English SDH and Spanish.
Even the presence of some talented actors can't save 'Tumbledown' from being both a bore and a disappointment. The movie tries to bring viewers a romantic tale from a new angle, but there's not a whole lot of spark between stars Rebecca Hall and Jason Sudeikis and a mediocre screenplay doesn't help matters. Sadly, this one is safely skippable.