HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:72
The rom com genre is pretty much overstuffed and over done at this point in time. You have the standard odd couple, neither of whom seem to have much in common, suddenly get thrust together and over the course of a few days find out that they’re madly in love with each other. Yawn, say to the wife how you loved spending time with her and then go to bed. Well, director Sean Mewshaw’s directorial debut decides to be unsatisfied with the genre staples and molds a weird blending of tragic drama with a few elements of the standard romantic comedy to create something rather new and interesting. “Tumbledown” deals with the tragedy of personal loss in a very real and heart breaking way, all the while infusing in the need to move forward and on, no matter how enticing or wonderful the past actually was.
Hannah Miles (Rebecca Hall) has been living the last several years out on her home in the woods of Maine. Her husband is gone, and all that she is left with is her grief and her two boxer pups for company. The writing that once made her so happy is just a chore to slog through and the only real comfort she gets is in the form of hunky neighbor, Curtis (Joe Manganiello) who helps her out with some more “physical” needs. Her late husband, Hunter, was a beloved folk musician who had just finished a fantastic album that became an instant classic, only to lose his footing hiking on a trail and dying shortly after, leaving Hannah a grieving widow. Hannah has been trying to write a biography about her husband, but the passion and the drive that she once had is sorely missing and her depression is only getting worse.
Things take an unusual twist, when a professor named Andrew McDonnell comes into town looking for an interview. It seems that he is writing a book about long lost musicians who influenced the world and Hunter is his crème brulee, the icing on his cake, and the centerpiece in his new book deal. Andrew’s peppy personality is met with his antithesis, when Hannah steamrolls right over the top of all his requests for an interview thinking the man is going to desecrate her husband’s name. Finally she comes to the realization that her biography just won’t write itself, so Hannah comes up with an interesting proposition for Andrew. If he will WRITE the biography, she will share all of the little personal tidbits about the author’s life and the two can take co credit. Leaping at the chance, Andrew comes into the picture and starts delving into the musician’s life only to find out that he may have gotten himself into something that was more than he bargained for.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=68410[/img]“Tumbledown” doesn’t bog the viewer down with a ton of unnecessary details about the grief process. In fact the story picks up right when the grief phase is starting to fade. It seems to have been several years after the death of Hunter and Hannah is still living in her cocoon of sorrow, but you can tell that many of the phases of grief have already been handled. Instead it focuses on a sort of “slice of life” approach that allows us to see into a slice of her grief, and the subsequent healing that can happen when you open your life up. Hannah is reserved and possessive over the wonders that was her previous marriage. She had it all. A husband, a life in the woods of Maine, two dogs and then it was taken from her.
Andrew is kind of her polar opposite. He’s had a lot of painful things happen in his life, but his attitude is cheery, almost cheeky, and his enthusiasm for her late husband’s work is palpable. Andrew comes into the writing job with his own sets of hang ups and issues too. It’s pretty obvious from the moment he starts digging around that he believes something more nefarious happened to hunter. The over obsession with his curious, the bullets found in a guitar case, etc. This leads to some rather drastic conflict, as well as the chance for the movie to deal with the fact that not everything has to be a tragic movie style ending to ACTUALLY tragic. Some things are just as beautiful and sweet as they appear on the outside and our own hang ups can color the reality of the situation.
There’s some hiccups here and there, mostly with the addition of some of the side plots and side characters. Curtis was kind of funny now and again, but the “good old country boy” routine has been done to death and his heavy accent just seemed WAY out of place. The same thing goes for the suicide theory that Andrew had. It seems at odds with the ending of the movie where he expresses a much deeper set of feelings for Hannah, especially with how quickly she forgives him (something that is constrained by only a couple of hours of run time). Still, the movie is sweet and endearing, in a sort of melancholy way that is immensely refreshing due to not sticking with the standard genre molds that have become so well worn and stale.
Rated R for a sex scene
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=68418[/img]“Tumbledown” sports a pleasant, although not immaculate looking digital image that should please most viewers. Covered in a sort of amber “homey” hue, the film tends to favor dark browns and muddy colors more than anything, although that is balanced out with some brilliant whites and blues of the snowy Maine countryside. There are some moments where the blooming can get a bit strong (look at the scene where Sudeikis goes inside the house and stares towards the windows with light streaming in. It almost looks like he’s going to heaven due to the blooming halos). Fine detail is overall a pleasant experience with good detailing on wood banners, cloth sleeping bags and the like, but there is also some overt softness that creeps into the picture and doesn’t seem to want to let go. Blacks are serviceable, but sometimes murky and a tad washed out, so while I wouldn’t say this will rival your average blockbuster it is still a very solid encode.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=68426[/img]The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track for “Tumbledown” is a fairly straight forward track. It isn’t fancy, it isn’t full of exciting surround activity, but it does do the job in a straight forward and simplistic manner. The dialog is the centerpiece of the film and it’s replicated quite nicely with strong vocals and a good presence in the front soundstage. There’s some mild shifting of directions as you can hear sounds like the two boxers barking or a screen door creaking, but really it’s a VERY front heavy mix. LFE is there, but never intrusive or that noticeable, just filling out some low end seams and cracks here and there. There’s a couple of Hunter’s songs that play during the film and that’s really where the track gains some legs, as the surrounds get utilized a lot more and it’s a much more “filling” sound.
• The Music of "Tumbledown"
• The Making of "Tumbledown"
The biggest benefit to “Tumbledown” is that Director/Writer Sean Mewshaw bends and twists different genres together in a way that works almost seamlessly despite the whole “square peg and round hole” situation. Sudeikis and Hall work really well together, albeit there are some awkward scenes near the end of the movie as the romance kicks up, and it’s nice to see Sudeikis in a more dramatic role over his zany pervy comedian persona. The film has a few flaws here and there, but is actually a really entertaining and emotionally involving Dramance (yes, that’s my own patented word now) that plays out rather well. Audio and video are fine for such a release and despite some rather anemic extras, the disc is still recommended for a watch.
Starring: Jason Sudeikis, Rebecca Hall, Blythe Danner
Directed by: Sean Mewshaw
Written by: Sean Mewshaw (Story), Desiree Van Til (Screenplay)
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Studio: Starz/Anchor Bay
Runtime: 103 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: April 5th 2016
Buy Tumbledown On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Worth a Watch
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