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Tomorrow You're Gone Blu-ray Review

Tomorrow You're Gone Blu-ray cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Tomorrow You're Gone

Video Premiere: May 14, 2013 / Running Time: 92 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated

Director: David Jacobson / Writer: Matthew F. Jones (novel Boot Tracks and screenplay)

Cast: Stephen Dorff (Charlie Rankin/Samson), Michelle Monaghan (Florence Jane), Willem Dafoe (Billy Pettigrew/The Buddha), Tara Buck (Blond Mistress), Robert LaSardo (Ornay Corale)

2.40:1 Widescreen; 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French; Not Closed Captioned
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25) / Blue Keepcase with Side Snap in Cardboard Slipcover
Suggested Retail Price: $29.97
Also available on DVD ($27.97 SRP)

Buy Tomorrow You're Gone from Amazon: Blu-ray DVD

One hopes Tomorrow You're Gone lives up to its title. Assuming I can finish this review before going to sleep (it's 10:30 PM right now), then I expect this film will be mostly gone from my memory by the time I wake up. That's a good thing.
The bad thing is that I've spent one minute unwrapping the Blu-ray, five minutes watching its trailers, 92 minutes watching the movie, and now I've got to write mean things about the people who spent at least a few weeks planning and making this thing.

Let me begin with the indisputable facts. Tomorrow You're Gone is based on a 2006 novel by Matthew F. Jones. Jones' sixth and most recent book, it is the second to become a film and the first adapted by Jones himself. Jones has already since adapted another one of his novels. A Single Shot, which premiered last month at the Tribeca Film Festival, has an R rating and a distinguished cast including Sam Rockwell, William H. Macy, and Melissa Leo. What it does not yet have is a distributor or scheduled release date. The upside for that film is that the odds are in its favor for being better and more widely received than Tomorrow. The downside is that Jones' first screenwriting effort sets expectations very low.

Tomorrow opens with Charlie Rankin (Stephen Dorff) being released from prison after serving a four-year stint. He pops into a bar, drops the name of a friend, and gets a seedy room in which to stay. Charlie is suffering from hallucinations. He's still got a short fuse. And he's not yet putting the criminal life behind him. He's apparently still got to carry out some deadly deeds for the aforementioned friend, Billy Pettigrew, a.k.a. "The Buddha" (Willem Dafoe).

Charlie Rankin (Stephen Dorff) finds a love interest (Michelle Monaghan) on a city bus. Who among us can't relate to that?!

Charlie's to-do list weighs over him after he effortlessly finds romance on a public bus with Florence (Michelle Monaghan), a kind of wild, outgoing woman, who invites him to her place and shows him a non-nude pornographic movie she did playing a naughty nun. There's significance to that theming because Florence talks to Charlie, who for some reason identifies himself as "Samson" to her, about his biblical namesake and takes Charlie into a church. That stained glass-tinted visit is enough to spark some spiritual speculation and religious pondering. Elsewhere, Charlie and Florence contemplate reincarnation.

At least someone is doing something, because there's very little of that here. This economical drama has a principal cast of just five characters, of which only the three highly-billed name actors carry any weight. A good amount of the time, it isn't clear what's going on in this moody and lifeless film. Images we're shown -- like Charlie retrieving a bag from a public locker, then hiding the wads of bills in a bathroom vent -- never add up or become clear. We seem to linger on such moments and random imagery like sun peeking out behind trees because there is nothing story-related to latch onto.

Well, maybe there is a little bit of story. Charlie has to go to Willimete presumably on unfinished business. He'd rather hang out with Florence, even though he's sort of impotent and she sort of has sexual needs. Charlie buys Florence a car and plans to take her out to dinner at a fancy restaurant. But it's early still and he's not that hungry. Is that a metaphor for his sexual dysfunction, a side effect of his potent demons, or just more filler to get this to a standard 90-minute runtime?

You might ask yourself whether The Buddha is Dafriend or Dafoe of our protagonist. Can't a troubled ex-con (Stephen Dorff) enjoy a soak in the bathtub of a seedy room above a bar without being bothered by neighbor noise?!

David Jacobson has been writing and directing movies for nearly twenty years, though you wouldn't guess it by watching this. Actually, his black and white 1994 debut Criminal has just 31 votes on IMDb, suggesting it was some kind of student film. Its one IMDb message board thread claims was a Hollywood Video-exclusive.
Nevertheless, Jacobson's next two movies unquestionably exist and even boast some star power; Jeremy Renner in Dahmer and Edward Norton in Down in the Valley. Tomorrow is the first film that credits Jacobson as director but not a writer. The film is so ambiguous and laborious that it hardly even seems to matter how much fault belongs to Jones' novel, how much to Jones' script, and how much to Jacobson's direction. Suffice it to say, all of the above let us down and add up to something that is probably even less than the sum of its parts.

The acting too is lamentable. I now see that the intrigue to Dorff's performance in Sofia Coppola's Somewhere wasn't so much acting as us glimpsing at someone who looks tough and world-weary while his mind appears to be drifting. I guess it's impressive that despite that limited range, Dorff (who assumed the role of Charlie after Matt Dillon backed out) has managed to act in television and film for nearly thirty years and that somehow he regularly manages to sneak into a lead or significant supporting role in something that people see, like Blade, World Trade Center, Public Enemies, and Immortals.

Across from him, Monaghan is unconvincing as usual. At least it seems like the industry is backing off from the abandon with which it started throwing major movie roles at her last decade. (As if there weren't thousands of actresses as talented, pretty, and age-appropriate that could easily take her place in Gone Baby Gone, The Heartbreak Kid, Mission: Impossible III, Eagle Eye, Made of Honor, and Source Code...) As for Dafoe, a look at his recent filmography suggests that maybe we shouldn't mistake his presence for some kind of seal of prestige.

Today (it's now after midnight), six months after opening in the United Kingdom and making its US premiere at the Savannah Film and Video Festival, Tomorrow hits DVD and Blu-ray from newly-branded Image Entertainment parent company RLJ Entertainment. Fun fact: Dorff and Monaghan are among the film's countless producers, each given co-producer credit.

VIDEO and AUDIO

The Blu-ray's 2.40:1 presentation offers good picture quality. The movie is dark and it meanders as much visually as dramatically, but there are no issues with the video. There would also be no issues with the 5.1 DTS-HD master audio if the film hadn't chosen to presents gunshots at a considerably louder volume than everything else. Those moments will annoy more than most of the film does.

Apparently any bonus features for "Tomorrow You're Gone" are gone today.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Sadly, you won't get to hear about the brilliance of Matthew F. Jones' script,
the thrills of filming in Ohio and Los Angeles or the genius of director David Jacobson. That's because this Blu-ray disc is altogether void of bonus features, unless you count the automatically played HD trailers for The Numbers Station and Day at the Falcon.

The menu plays stylized clips from the film while dashed lines whiz by under the three listings below as they do in the opening credits. The disc does not support bookmarks or playback outside Region A. The insert-free, side-snapped blue keepcase is topped by a cardboard slipcover with foil title lettering.

Bathed in the blue light of a church's stained glass window, Charlie (Stephen Dorff) and Florence (Michelle Monaghan) get serious and talk about God and stuff.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

A quick disappearing act is the most likely fate of Tomorrow You're Gone and that is the best case scenario for the people who made this limp thriller. As you should have figured out by the end of my first paragraph, this film isn't worth your time. Those giving it a chance might just think it's got a slow start and will pick up. It does not. It's an unpleasant journey whose only destination is you feeling like 92 minutes of your life have been utterly wasted.

The Blu-ray contains fine picture, annoying sound, and no bonus features. That last bit isn't just merciful, it's fitting. After all, the disc could have the greatest extras in the world and the movie would still be awful. Pass.

Buy Tomorrow You're Gone at Amazon.com: Blu-ray / DVD

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Reviewed May 14, 2013.



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