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Rachel, Rachel Blu-ray Review

Joanne Woodward shines in ‘Rachel, Rachel.’

Based on the novel ‘A Jest Of God’ by Margaret Laurence and adapted for the screen by writer Stewart Stern, 1968’s ‘Rachel, Rachel’ is a drama about a lonely, single, middle-aged small town teacher (the titular Rachel) who is stuck in life. She wants more out of life and even fantasizes about things (and sometimes has dark fantasies), but is stuck in a mundane existence caring for her nagging mother. She’s also uneasy about going outside her comfort zone and seems to struggle to come to terms with her odd past with her late father being an undertaker. When she bumps into a childhood acquaintance named Nick (who is also a teacher) though her world might change, but maybe not in ways she expects. 

Directed by Paul Newman, ‘Rachel, Rachel’ is an emotional and mature drama. Despite some now dated 60’s era stylistic choices, Newman crafted an insightful look into the mind of a middle-aged woman. It’s tough to depict internalized emotions in cinema in convincing manners, but Newman really captures Rachel’s mindset as she yearns for love, grapples with fears, desires change, and hides her true emotions. It’s a heavy psychological character drama to be sure, but following Rachel on this journey is worthwhile. Films starring middle-aged women or stories about midlife crisis aren’t very common in the film world (especially nowadays) so it’s nice to see both subjects getting represented here. Moreover, it’s a testament to Paul Newman’s direction that the movie still resonates and holds up all these years later. 

Joanne Woodward (who was married to Pau Newman) gives one of the best performances of her career (if not her best) as Rachel. This is such a challenging role even on paper, but to captivate the screen and deliver a convincing and deep performance like she does here is truly remarkable. It’s no wonder she received an Academy Award nomination for her work here. Estelle Parsons (who plays a teacher friend named Calla) delivers a strong performance as per usual and was also nominated for an Oscar. Other stand-outs here include James Olson (Nick), Terry Kiser (as a Preacher), and Kate Harrington as Rachel’s mother.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.85:1 1080p. How does it look? Another pristine transfer from Warner Archive. Did you expect anything less?

Audio Track: 2.0 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? This 2.0 track hits all the right notes.

Extras include a theatrical trailer and 2 minutes of silent “A Jest Of God” set footage.

‘Rachel, Rachel’ is available Sept. 6 on the Amazon Warner Archive Store along with other online retailers.

August 27, 2022 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , ,

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