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A Love Song for Bobby Long

Released: 2004

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 1 hr 59 min

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Shainee Gabel

Starring: John Travolta, Scarlett Johansson, Gabriel Macht, Deborah Kara Unger, Dane Rhodes, David Jensen, Clayne Crawford, Walter Breaux

A film based on the novel Off Magazine Street by Ronald Everett Capps.

One of the movie's strengths is its strong sense of place.

Review by: SteveRhodes

Added: 7 years ago

A LOVE SONG FOR BOBBY LONG is a sentimental and overtly literary tale of three unlikely housemates, two adult alcoholics and an older teenager girl whose recently deceased mother, Lorraine, was friends with the guys. Lorraine is said to have had a "revolving door heart" when it came to men. The movie has a showy and self-conscious style that reminds one of a typical film festival indie, and it probably would have been just that without its two A-list stars, John Travolta and Scarlett Johansson.

In the beginning, we learn that Purslane "Pursy" Hominy Will (Johansson) has inherited her mother's old house in New Orleans, currently inhabited by the aforementioned drunks. One of the movie's strengths is its strong sense of place. "New Orleans is a siren of a city," Lawson Pines (Gabriel Macht) explains to us in voice-over. The set decoration for the picture is inviting, with a dramatic and almost exclusive use of blue and green pastels.

Lawson, an unsuccessful and unpublished writer, is the long-time drinking buddy of Bobby Long (Travolta). Through a mysterious back story that we will eventually be told, the well-loved Professor Long and his teaching assistant Lawson have come to live in the miserable conditions of Lorraine's dilapidated, old house. Their affinity for the bottle is such that they are willing to spice up their gin with pickle juice if that is all that is left in the fridge.

The movie's slow rhythms have the three of them engaging in playful arguments, while the two guys drink a lot. Bobby spends much of his day swapping stories with his neighborhood buddies and quoting a long string of literary sources. After every quote, Lawson tells us its author, as if he was practicing for a quiz show. Listening to the relatively inconsequential film work its way to its inevitable "surprise" ending is like reading through a handsomely illustrated book of quotations.

A LOVE SONG FOR BOBBY LONG runs too long at 1:59. It is rated R for "language including some sexual references" and would be acceptable for teenagers.