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Ordinary People: Paramount Presents Blu-ray Review

“Ordinary People” still holds up 42 years later.

Based on the novel by Judith Guest, 1980’s “Ordinary People” is a drama about an suburban Illinois family (Parents Beth and Calvin and their son Conrad) struggling to move forward after the loss of a family member (Beth and Calvin’s son Buck). The anxiety ridden Conrad blames himself for Buck’s death (which occurred during a boating accident) and is attempting to return to normalcy after a suicide attempt. Beth doesn’t connect with Conrad and runs away from her feelings with the hope that things can return to normal. Calvin cares about his family but struggles how to deal with his own emotions. With the help of a therapist (Dr. Berger), Conrad (and later Calvin) hope to deal with their own feelings, but what will become of their fractured family?

Directed by Robert Redford, “Ordinary People” was the Best Picture winner at the 1981 Academy Awards. While it may not have the cinematic impact that movies like “Raging Bull,” “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back,” and “The Shining” had that same year, it remains a powerful psychological drama about family, loss, guilt, trauma, hidden feelings and moving forward. Redford’s assured direction combined with Alvin Sargent’s down to earth script give the film a very non-Hollywood like vibe. The movie doesn’t pull any punches as it explores the messiness of life in ways you don’t frequently see. It’s an intelligent adult drama that could have easily devolved into a soap opera, but never does. 

The cast is perfect. Timothy Hutton gives one of the most layered performances of a teenager to date and won a Best Supporting Actor award for his work. Mary Tyler Moore gives perhaps the film’s best performance as she plays against type and sheds her lovable sitcom persona as Beth. Donald Sutherland is almost always reliable and his performance as Calvin is both understated and moving. Judd Hirsch (who plays Dr. Berger) is at his finest here and deservedly received an Oscar nomination for his role.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.85:1 1080p. How does it look? The print has been remastered from a 4K film transfer  and the result is a crisp new hi-def transfer that will surely please fans of the award winning film. 

Audio Track: Dolby TrueHD 2.0. How does it sound? Expect a nice clean audio experience.

Extras:
* Digital copy
* Theatrical trailer
* “Feeling Is Not Selective”- A new interview with author Judith Guest.
* “Swimming In The Rose Garden”- A new interview with actor Timothy Hutton. 

April 2, 2022 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , , ,

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