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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 5/1/00

Love Jones
1997 (1999) - New Line

review by Brad Pilcher of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Love Jones Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/A-/B

Specs and Features

110 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, dual-layered, Snapper case packaging, theatrical trailer, music video for The Sweetest Thing by Refugee Camp All-Stars, film-themed menu screens, scene access (25 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned

"Have you been listening? I'm gonna tell you the point. I'm gonna feed you the point. The point is... I don't know the point, all right?"

Sometimes with film, beauty works on a multiple of levels. Love Jones is a film where those levels are deep and rich, bringing together some beautiful cinematography, trendy costuming, witty dialogue and undeniable chemistry. Love Jones stars Larenz Tate and Nia Long as Darius and Nina, and follows their love affair. Set against the backdrop of affluent black culture in Chicago, the film succeeds in making the visual aspect of the film quite memorable. Where the movie breaks down, though, is in the narrative, which begins to drag and never quite finds cohesiveness.

The story goes something like this: Nina has just left her boyfriend when Darius bumps into her at a bar. His mating call is to go on stage and ad lib a poem for her. The attraction between them is strong, no matter how much she attempts to deny it. Whether she wants it or not, she is consumed rather quickly. But when Nina tests the boundaries of their relationship, a convoluted chain of romantic events follows. What seems like eons later, we get to the ultimate conclusion, bringing us full-circle through the tumult.

This film deserves a lot of credit. It is photographed beautifully, bringing a soft and well-hued visual tone to the screen. The costuming totally compliments the beautiful persons populating this story. What we walk away with, is a shadowed cool look that is as sexy as any film out there. Adding in some top-shelf dialogue, that is very much with the musical and stylistic flow, helps round out the film that much more. The on-screen chemistry between Tate and Long is as undeniable as the attraction of their characters. All of this is amazing and early on, you're just salivating at where this film could go.

Soon, however, you find yourself wondering where the film actually goes. After the early establishment, we get a ho-hum intertwining of events that just don't pay off as decisively as they should in a narrative of this sort. The film itself is not unusually long, but the story isn't tight enough and thus we get sort of lost in the hip current, forgetting that the story is the key. It's too bad, because the ending does nothing to really justify the mess these characters make of their relationships. It's an unfortunate trailing off of an otherwise astounding film.

Technically, what we have here is a solid disc. The video is very good looking, benefiting from an anamorphic transfer. The colors in this film play a heavy role, and the dark shadows and various colors translate well to DVD. No oversaturation can be found, and the black levels are just right. There's some light grain here and there, but that's the only real complaints. The disc's audio is equally solid, offering a robust mix with strong dialogue presence. This film is all about the character interaction, and thus the dialogue is essential. Where no bangs, pops or whizzes are to be found, a strong dialogue aspect makes this a soundtrack to love.

The extras are not going to blow you away (especially by New Line's high standards), but what we get on this disc is very good. There's both a widescreen and full-screen version of the film available, and the original theatrical trailer is on board. The only stand out extra is the music video of The Sweetest Thing (which plays over the end credits). Performed by the Refugee Camp All-Stars featuring Lauryn Hill, the video looks as beautiful as the film, and is a commendable addition to a middleweight disc in the extras category.

You'll fall in love with Love Jones based simply on the photography and style. You'll probably also catch yourself wondering what writer/director Theodore Witcher was thinking. What could have been a terrific commentary on love in the 90s, becomes a convoluted story of two convoluted people. The gone-astray plot aside, this disc is of sufficient quality that it will make a solid addition to any collection.

Brad Pilcher

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