'To Kill A Mockingbird' is one of my all-time favorite films - probably even my favorite classic - so on seeing a film's promo art proclaiming, "From Horton Foote, Screenwriter of 'To Kill A Mockingbird,'" I got really excited and requested this Blu-ray for reviewing. It's a good thing that Foote passed away before 'Main Street' was finished because the film is dry, superficial, and unremarkable.
'Main Street' is a slow moving drama set in the small town of Durham, North Carolina. As the economy has gone to pot, many residents have fled town for better prospects of work in nearby big cities. Now, many of the businesses within the town are struggling to keep their doors open due to the population reduction.
This ensemble piece tells the stories of struggling citizens trying to stay afloat. Orlando Bloom plays a lovesick police officer with dreams of attending law school, but he cannot leave his mother alone and refuses to stop fighting to win back his high school sweetheart (Amber Tamblyn). She, on the other hand, wants nothing do with him, trying to run from her small town roots and make a bigger life for herself elsewhere.
Ellen Burstyn plays a widowed Durham native whose trust fund has ran out and is trying to find a way to keep her head above water. Because of her predicament, she's forced to rent out the family's old tobacco warehouse and has to consider selling her home - the only house that she has ever lived in. (Why she doesn't sell the warehouse instead of the home she was born in is beyond me). Her niece (Patricia Clarkson) is aiding her in the rental process, which is complicated when they learn that the man renting the warehouse (Colin Firth) is using it to store toxic waste barrels en route to a treatment facility. The smooth-talking businessman spreads ideas through town that his business can build a safe treatment facility in Durham that will boost jobs and save their small family-owned economy.
Even with just four main character stories simultaneously taking place, 'Main Street' is too jumbled to be enjoyable. The string that connects of the characters' stories is so thin that it never holds them together well. Not a single one of the characters is fleshed out to the point where you care and feel for them. Your relationship with them is purely superficial. What you see is what you get. There's nothing more there and you're never going to empathize with them.
Had 'Main Street' been made 60 years ago, it might be deemed a classic. The issues addressed in the film are timeless and the style of storytelling is a rare breed that doesn't show up much in contemporary stories. For the time we're in, and considering how far filmmaking has progressed, it doesn't play out well to modern audiences, feeling like a made-for-television movie with decent film actors.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Magnolia Home Entertainment has released 'Main Street' on Blu-ray with a Region A-locked BD-25 in a standard blue keepcase. Upon inserting the disc, you're forced to watch a Magnolia vanity reel and a commentary disclaimer followed by skippable trailers for 'Melancholia,' 'Blackthorn' and 'Point Blank,' as well as a commercial for HDNet.
'Main Street' hits Blu-ray with a run-of-the-mill 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer in a wide 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The video quality is about on par with what you'd expect from a film that opened on one screen in the United States.
The only thing that 'Main Street' gets right are vivid colors. The beautiful colors of summer in the south are well represented here. From the many shades of lushious greens to Burstyn's deep blue velvet attire, rich colors are constantly popping amidst this drab, gloomy and overcast color scheme. The rich blacks accentuate the use of these vibrant colors, but every other aspect of the video quality is lackluster.
Minute details are rarely visible. The lack of sharpness causes Bloom's icky mustache to look like a detail-less smudge. Overall, the picture quality is quite soft, almost giving it an unfocused feel. Small white specks occasionally reveal the imperfections in the film's print.
Edge enhancement, DNR, artifacts, and banding are absent, but digital noise shows up in the final frames of the film as it fades to black.
'Main Street' has been given only one mild audio track - 5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio.
Initially, the well-mixed audio sounds so good that you'd expect a 5-star rating, but it quickly demonstrates its flaws. Once the swelling, all-encompassing music fades out, the problems become evident. Depite the vocal levels being perfect and the voices playing out clearly, channels other than the front are rarely utilized. The only times they become noticeable are when rumbling trucks roll onto the frame. This is also the time that the subwoofer emits any deep bass. Not even during the wooded outdoor shots are there ambient sound. The silence creates an eerie vibe that shouldn't be carried through this still film.
The biggest, ugliest, and most evident audio problem shows up when we hear on-location dialog between Bloom and Tamblyn in a car speeding down a highway in the rain. Their voices sound as if they're talking inside tin can, echoing back and forth like crazy. Since these characters are in this setting throughout the last parts of the film, it becomes a recurring nuisance.
'Main Street' is one theater away from being a direct-to-home-video movie - literally. Both the quality of the movie itself and its Blu-ray exemplify it. Despite a strong cast and fine pedigree, 'Main Street' is a mediocre movie on a mediocre Blu-ray. This one can be safely skipped. A shame.