Director: Zachary Sluser
Cast: Anton Yelchin, Zooey Deschanel, John Hawkes
Release Date: Now Available on DVD
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 8/10
Disc Rating: 6.5/10
Pierre (Anton Yelchin) returns to his hometown after the death of his parents and falls under the spell of the enchanting, mysterious Stella (Zooey Deschanel). As their relationship deepens, Pierre finds himself in a dangerous situation with a volatile criminal (John Hawkes) who abruptly altered the course of Stella’s life.
‘The Driftless Area’ tells the story of the eccentric Pierre (Yelchin) who has recently returned to his small hometown after becoming broke, currently working as a bartender and merely trying to scrape by. After accidentally falling into a hole one night and being discovered the subsequent morning by the peculiar Stella (Deschanel), Pierre soon becomes infatuated with her and after a random encounter with a criminal named Shane (Hawkes) he walks away with a bag full of cash which he believes may in fact be fate. Unfortunately, the career criminal who he took it from will stop at nothing in order to reclaim what is his, setting in motion what can only lead to an inevitable violent confrontation.
Directed by Zachary Sluser from a screenplay he also co-wrote along with Tom Drury which was based upon Drury’s novel of the same name, Sluser does a more than competent job at the helm of ‘The Driftless Area’ which also marks his feature length directorial and writing debut. The film also benefits a great deal from the talented folks who comprise the cast including Anton Yelchin (Star Trek 2009), Zooey Deschanel (TV’s New Girl), John Hawkes (American Gangster), Alia Shawkat (TV’s Arrested Development), Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon), Aubrey Plaza (TV’s Parks and Recreation), Ciarán Hinds (TV’s Game of Thrones) and more, all of which at the very least deliver capable performances in each of their respective roles.
‘The Driftless Area’ is part mystery, part romance, and at times an offbeat comedy which combines into a wonderfully odd and quirky film that is drastically unlike the majority of movies these days. While it may not be perfect and some small elements feel like they could have possibly been tackled slightly better, it’s nonetheless a remarkable effort and a fairly impressive film, not to mention a notable feature length directorial debut from Zachary Sluser. I haven’t had the pleasure of reading Drury’s novel of the same name from which the movie was based so unfortunately I’m unable to provide any input in regard to the adaptation, but Drury’s personal involvement with the film should help to appease many fans of the novel. Admittedly, ‘The Driftless Area’ definitely won’t be for everyone as the strange nature and odd approach is sure to detract many, yet those who appreciate wonderfully unique films that dare to step outside of the norm are likely to enjoy this one quite a bit.
Overall, ‘The Driftless Area’ is a beautiful, quirky and romantic mystery of sorts that will also leave you laughing at the most unexpected of moments. An impressive feature length directorial debut from Zachary Sluser and featuring a powerhouse cast including Anton Yelchin, Zooey Deschanel, John Hawkes and Frank Langella among others. For fans of independent cinema as well as those who can appreciate a film which dares to take a boldly different approach, I would recommend giving ‘The Driftless Area’ a watch when you have the opportunity to do so, this one may just be right up your alley.
The DVD release of ‘The Driftless Area’ is presented in a 16×9 enhanced Widescreen presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks pretty decent in most regards, providing a fairly clean and clear video presentation which holds up quite well even during the darkly lit and/or fast moving sequences, never causing anything occurring on screen to become rendered indiscernible. Unfortunately it does suffer from a couple of notable faults as well, primarily noise lines spanning top to bottom on both the left and right edges of the screen which are visible throughout, especially during the brightly lit scenes; fortunately they are not overly distracting. Overall, while certainly not perfect, this video presentation is still pretty decent in most respects and should at the very least easily please the casual viewer.
The DVD release features a 448 kbps 5.1 channel Dolby Digital soundtrack. This multichannel Dolby Digital soundtrack sounds pretty solid as a whole and delivers a fairly clean and smooth audio presentation throughout, utilizing all five available channels on a number of occasions in order to immerse the viewer with the films score, in addition to sending some nature related auditory elements and more throughout the various speakers, and never resulting in any dialogue which may be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible. Overall, this is a more than competent Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack that delivers in every way required of it and shouldn’t disappoint.
The DVD release of ‘The Driftless Area’ includes a single extra, a behind the scenes Featurette ‘Making The Driftless Area’ (running approximately 16 minutes in length) which features behind the scenes footage and interviews/comments with the cast and crew.