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Big Stone Gap

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  •  
    Mark Tolch
    Senior Member

  • Big Stone Gap



    Released By: Universal
    Released On: February 2, 2016
    Director: Adriana Trigiani
    Cast: Ashley Judd, Patrick Wilson, Whoopi Goldberg, John Benjamin Hickey, Jane Krakowski
    Year: 2014

    The Film:


    Based on author Adriana Trigiani's novel of the same name, Big Stone Gap tells the story of the quirky relationships between the quirky townfolk of a quirky mountain town. It's 1978, and Ave Maria Mulligan (Ashley Judd) has just turned forty, declaring herself the town spinster. It's not that she isn't interested in affairs of the heart; she is "dating" Theodore Tipton, with whom she's putting on the annual Big Stone Gap play, though his interests may lie in other areas; and she's very interested in coal miner Jack MacChesney, (Patrick Wilson) who is currently spending his spare time with the town pump, Sweet Sue Tinsley (Jane Krakowski). While romance doesn't seem to be Ave Maria's strong suit, and she counts her Fleeta, her co-worker down at Mulligan's Pharmacy, and the flirty, bookmobile-driving Iva Lou Wade as good friends, and generally considers herself happy.

    Ave Maria's life gets flipped turned upside down, however, when her mother passes, and her lawyer presents her with a letter attached to the will. It turns out her father, who never really liked her, isn't her father at all; Ave is the product of a pregnancy that occurred before her mother left Italy and met her dad in America. Distracted by a new purpose of finding her real father, she puts romance to the side; but an explosion at the coal mine makes her realize how much she really cares for Jack. But are her feelings for Jack enough to overcome Jack's engagement to Sweet Sue? And if they aren't, will Ave Maria have anything left after her adoptive father's nasty Italian-hating sister takes back the "family home" and the pharmacy? Or will visiting celebrity Elizabeth Taylor choke on fried chicken? In Big Stone Gap, anything goes.

    I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the target market for Big Stone Gap. This is a straight up romantic comedy that goes light on the comedy and more on the inspirational, heartwarming material that my mom would be all over. If a middle-aged woman attempting to find true love in a small town sounds appealing, though, you're in for a treat. The location used for the filming is integral to the story, a character on its own, and Trigiani's characters fall right into place perfectly in the mountain town setting. Trigiani, an experienced writer not just of novels but also in television, has pulled together an impressive product for her first time writing and directing a feature film, which can't be said about a lot of folks their first time out of the gate; he pacing is more or less where it should be, and the composition and acting direction are well-done. Of course, the cast is integral to the success of the film as well, and Big Stone Gap has a huge contingent of great actors. Patrick Wilson, Ashley Judd, Jane Krakowski, Whoopi Goldberg; all of them shine in their respective roles, and seem to have genuine love for the characters.

    It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but for the people who's cup of tea it is, Big Stone Gap should prove to be a worthwhile addition to film collections that probably contain Fried Green Tomatoes, Pretty Woman, Jerry Maguire and As Good As It Gets.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Universal brings Big Stone Gap to Blu-ray (and HD digital download) in a 1.85:1 transfer that looks pretty great. Detail is high, clarity is wonderful, and the cinematography surrounding the small town shines through with solid blacks and good dynamic colour range.

    A DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is more than adequate for the source material, with the majority of the track centering around dialogue, which is clear an consistent throughout.

    English and Spanish Subtitles are also provided.

    Virginia Film Festival Q&A With Cast (5:33) features the majority of the cast in a panel discussion for the film. It's very short, and not much detail is covered.

    Cast and Crew Interviews (3:53) is another short piece, with Whoopi Goldberg, Patrick Wilson, Adriana Trigiani and others discussing the film and the characters.

    Hollywood Celebrates Big Stone Gap (2:47) features a parade and celebrations in the town with some of the cast of the film participating.

    On Virginia (3:29) talks about how great and unique Virginia is, also featuring the players from the film.

    Virginia Film Festival Panel (2:20) is yet another short panel discussion/press conference for the film that doesn't run long enough to cover anything of note.

    The Final Word:

    The success of Trigiani's books would indicate that there's a pretty serious interest in this film. Universal have presented a good-looking Blu-ray here, even if the extras are inconsequential.

    Click the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!





















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