Hemingway Gellhorn Box Art
Hemingway & Gellhorn Blu-ray
Most film and miniseries programming on HBO is well done, offering high profile performances and great settings, often on impressively smaller budgets than it would take to create a theatrical film. Hemingway & Gellhorn has all the trappings of a small tale made legendary on film, but unfortunately, it doesn’t flesh out into a tightly woven story, and is sometimes as slow going as it can be harrowing or romantic.

The biggest problem here is that most literature fans know plenty about Earnest Hemingway and little about Martha Gellhorn, at all. Hemingway’s legendary bravado and drinking has been made popular on film numerous times, and even recently in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, where Corey Stoll took on the role. To overcompensate for this, it feels like we are constantly being told about Gellhorn’s prominence as a writer herself. I’m happy to see the woman had spunk, intelligence, and was a fine writer, but it does feel like the movie lingers on those points when it should be fairer to the couple’s relationship.

The good news is, if you like torrid love affairs, this is one of the weirdest. Set against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War, Nicole Kidman’s Marty and Clive Owen’s Hemingway don’t mind getting it on as bombs affect buildings and plaster showers all around. Director Phillip Kaufman does a great job using trick newsreel footage to tell parts of the story or to segue throughout the film. The look of those scenes, if anything, is enough to hide some of the film’s more frustrating flaws.

Best Special Feature: The bonus features with the set are actually very few, which is a little surprising for an HBO set, but less surprising for a film from the company. Fans of Kaufman might like to hear him throughout the audio commentary, but he also pops up in the other bonus features, so if you want a smaller dose of the director, he’s around.

The best bonus feature is called “Behind the Visual Effects” which shows how a green screen was used to capably implant Kidman and Owen and other actors and set pieces into archival footage. Additionally, other visual effects used in the film, including the fight caught by a photographer that jumps from a moving scene into a newspaper headline, are explored.

Other Special Features:
Audio Commentary with director Philip Kaufman and editor Walter Murch
“Making Hemingway & Gellhorn

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