STUDIO: Warner Bros.
MSRP: $19.98
RUNNING TIME: 89 Minutes
• Trailer
• Deleted Scenes
• Photos and Bios

The Pitch

"It’s a love triangle between a woman, her brother … no, wait. It’s a love line-segment between a woman and her co-worker. And her brother."

The Humans

Alicia Goranson (Roseanne), David Eigenberg (Sex and the City), Brendan Sexton III (Boys Don’t Cry)

The Nutshell

Originally a stage play by David Paterson called "Finger Painting in a Murphy Bed," Love, Ludlow is a romantic comedy that finds its humor in the natural interactions of its characters. The ancient artifact of the love triangle reappears under a different sign, here, with the tension formed between Myra and her mentally disturbed brother, Ludlow. Into that long-established dynamic enters Reggie, a lonely man who is quite taken with Myra‘s attitude and wit.

Ludlow isn’t too keen on Reggie stealing his sister away from him, though, so he drives wedges between the two hopefuls with a selfish man’s glee. Reggie has to figure out if his attraction to Myra is worth all the trouble; Myra has to wonder if her brother is holding her back; and Ludlow, well, Ludlow has to discover where Myra has hidden his stash of Twinkies.

The emperor has an invisible court.

The Package

There are some problems with the picture transfer on this disc. Deep blacks and the more monochrome exteriors are heavy with artifacts. The varied interiors all look nice, though, and since most of the film takes place indoors the audience’s distraction level should be at a minimum.

The soundtrack is a simple 2.0 stereo affair, with a charming score by tomandandy. The dialogue is overmixed; it feels as if the sound editor were trying to emphasize the physical space of the sets in the wild variation of dialogue volume. For example, when a character is off-camera, his voice is barely audible, though he’s only a couple feet away from the camera’s point-of-view.

The bonuses are what we’ve all come to see regularly in smaller films: a photo gallery, a trailer gallery, and some deleted scenes. As usual, the only section with any potential, the deleted scenes, contains nothing much to pique your interest.

The Lowdown

Here’s what the writer and director of Love, Ludlow did absolutely right: they realized that the most compelling humor comes from interaction between flawed people, and that unique humor comes from interaction between uniquely flawed people. The three principals in the film are each their own kind of broken, but in ways that aren’t entirely predictable.

The titular Ludlow is selfish, but brilliant and snotty; his sister Myra is a tough-as-nails pushover, if that makes any sense; Reggie, the hopeful love interest, is far less patient than he appears. It’s a configuration uncommon in entertainment, at least in the particulars, which means it is full of open doors for uncommon humor (and slightly-more-common pathos.) I’m pleased to report, without going into too many details, that the potential is fulfilled.

"I told you we couldn’t have nice things."

Having been translated to film from a stage play, not everything works as perfectly as the depiction of the relationships. The dialogue, for example, verges from time to time on needlessly heavy or clever. On the stage, it’s important for dialogue to exist as a entity unto itself, something that may be a bit unnatural but is alluring in a way that transports the audience. With film, suspension of disbelief is not nearly so difficult, so instead of serving as a point of interest, stage-like dialogue is a distraction. This doesn’t happen often in Love, Ludlow, but the few clunkers really stand out. Despite these occasional stage trappings, but I have to commend it for making the leap to film ably.

I wish there were more romantic comedies like this one. Most are heavy on the comedy (situational, at least) and light on the romance; this one digs deep into both. It’s a story that takes its characters through changes that don’t feel forced. At the conclusion, the arcs for Reggie and Myra have been wound tightly up; the only loose end is that of Ludlow, who does the least amount of compromise, unless "tell, don’t show" has become the new writer’s axiom.

It all ends up a positive sum. Love, Ludlow is sweet without being sentimental, and brief without being curt. The structure edges out the dialogue in terms of quality, but the weak points are overcome by the poignant story of strange strangers and best efforts at loving.

7 out of 10