Actors: Katie Holmes, William Hurt, Allison Janney
Director: Christian Camargo
Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
DVD Release Date: January 27, 2015
Run Time: 91 minutes
Days and Nights does not take enough time to tell us who these people are or give us the opportunity to care about them before throwing them into a series of mishaps and melodramatic scenarios. Part of the problem is the simple excess of characters. As well as making it more difficult to remember each person’s connection to the others, many of the talented cast members go largely unused. On the other hand, some of the cast’s most amateur performers are also handed the brunt of the dialogue-heavy material. The result is a mixed bag of awful and endearing, though the overall film is simply an uneven mess that should have been fixed with either a rewrite the shooting script and/or a different cut of the film that includes more from select characters and less from others.
Set in rural 1984
New England, the plot simply involves the
gathering of a wealthy artistic family over a Memorial weekend. There are so
many characters crammed into this scenario that the film feels rushed despite
little ever happening. The family matriarch is Elizabeth (Allison Janney), an
aging movie star who is joined by her lover and film director, Peter (Christian
Camargo, who also makes his directorial debut). They are joined at the family
estate by her sick brother, Herb (William Hurt), and her artistic son, Eric
(Ben Whishaw). Also on the estate is the family doctor (Jean Reno), custodian
(Russell Means), the caretaker (Michael Nyqvist), his wife (Cherry Jones),
their daughter (Katie Holmes) and her ornithologist husband (Mark Rylance).
Throw in the neighbor girl played by Juliet Rylance, step-daughter to Mark
Rylance. One can easily imagine the choice for casting her in the
dialogue-heavy role was nepotistic, especially as she struggles alongside this
There are too many characters, and we seem to spend all of the running-time with the wrong ones as they make predictably bad decisions. This leads to a series of disasters which might be construed as comical with the slightest of spins, which is probably why the film’s sudden bleak ending feels so forced. Loosely adapted from Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” even those unfamiliar with the classic play are likely to see the tragic ending coming a mile away and still feel jarred by the rushed resolution.
The DVD special features include a commentary track with writer/director/actor Camargo, as well as additional interviews, a behind-the-scenes featurette, and a few deleted scenes.
Entertainment Value: 5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 5/10
Historical Significance: 4/10
Special Features: 7.5/10