For a long time a Hollywood staple has been the character of the happy drunk or funny stoner. In real lives these addictive personalities ruin families and hurt those closest to them.
In this Special Edition we see both the comic and tragic consequences to over indulging in drugs and alcohol. It is a difficult balance but this film comes closer to pulling it off than most films of this genre.
Gwen Cummings (Sandra Bullock) is a write with a problem with alcohol and prescription drugs. She doesn’t see the problem, she just knows that she drinks to have fun and takes pills not to feel bad afterwards.
Her boyfriend, Jasper (Dominic West) is also a drunk and the pair seems to do well together. Gwen has to be a bridesmaid at her sister’s wedding.
She arrives drunk, gets drunker and proceeds to ruin her sister’s wedding to the point of falling on the cake. Gwen then steals the bridal limo to find a bakery and winds up stopping the car in the living room of a near by home.
Faced with a choice between jail and rehab Gwen figures rehab would be better. Much to her dismay they actually expected her to stop drinking and taking pills.
She actually unknowingly asks her councilor (Steve Buscemi) for drugs. After almost getting kicked out when her misfit boyfriend smuggles in pills Gwen starts to face her out of control life.
This fact is hit home when after tossing the pills out of her window she tries to climb down a couple of floors out the window to get them and injures her ankle. Slowly Gwen takes the literal first step and begins to admit to herself that her life is out of control and she needs help.
As you might expect Sandra Bullock handles her role with grace, humanity and spirit in the 28 Days Special Edition DVD. Many films of this type, 28 Days Special Edition, reduce the drunk to a pathetic figure that few can identify with.
In 28 Days Sandra Bullock manages to present a more complex view of Gwen. Through some flashbacks we see how Gwen’s drunken mother affected both her and her sister.
At first, the flashbacks show the ‘fun’ side of having a drunk for a mother. How she would turn a coffee table into a sled, the laughter and the way Mom could act like one of the little girls.
As Sandra Bullock’s character begins to realize how out of control her own life is the flashbacks take on a darker side. The coffee table sled going into traffic almost killing them. The times Mom was unconscious on the floor.
Sandra Bullock handles this changing, process filled character with a great amount of care, emotion and concern.
This film, The 28 Days Special Edition, is very much a one-woman opus but the supporting cast really holds the movie together. Shining in her role as Gwen’s junkie roommate in rehab is Azura Skye form TV’s Zoe, Duncan, Jack and Jane.
Her performance in 28 Days is excellent and exhibits a depth and talent not seen in her TV career. It is rare that such a young actress can do so well in such a part without making the role into simple filler.
The director of 28 Days is Betty Thomas, perhaps best known for her acting on Hill Street Blues and her direction of the Howard Stern biopic, Private Parts. Thomas does an excellent job of balancing the humor with drama to provide a movie about a serious topic that is enjoyable to watch.
It is interesting to compare her commentary track with that of others I have heard. Thomas is a very technically oriented director.
Rather than fill the commentary with a lot of stories about the foibles of the cast and crew she goes into a lot of depth in how she planed the shot, set it up and executed it.
While some may find this a bit dry I felt it gave an excellent insight to the many decisions a director must make. Thomas is very careful about the framing of each scene and how realistic the details are to the sets.
This movie, 28 Days Special Edition, will be butchered when reformatted to fit the average TV screen. Thomas places a lot of interesting details off to the sides of many shots. Just another case to support widescreen presentation on video.
The 28 Days disc was well done from a technical standpoint.
Along with the director/producer commentary track there is an HBO ‘Making Of’ 28 Days Special Edition DVD special, an isolated musical score and various production notes.
The Dolby 5.1 audio track displayed a better than average back fill to the sound field although the rear channels did seem very light in many scenes.
The anamorphic 1.85:1 video was free of compression artifacts and provided a crisp image.
28 Days is an interesting movie that was largely overlooked in the theaters but worth a try on DVD.
by Doug MacLean of hometheaterinfo.com
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