A film that does it's best to examine the issue of gun control from all sides.
I think this DVD should have had a director's commentary.
American Gun is one of the new modeled indy films that has a point of view, yet chooses to tell it's tale from many different focal points. Comprising a cast of some of Hollywood's finest actors, this film is a character study about the effects that guns have had on our culture. We have Marcia Gay Harden playing a woman who has to carry on after son has gone on a Columbine-like killing spree. Forest Whitaker plays a principal trying keep his family and the school he runs away from firearms. Donald Sutherland plays an aging grandfather to Linda Cardellini and the majority of their interactions take place in the gun store he owns. There are other stories in this 95 minute film, but obviously there is only so much time to fully resolve all of them.
All of the characters are linked by the way that guns have effected their lives. In this way we see that gun control isn't just a problem for the people who own guns, but for everybody who lives in this country. Without ever getting preachy, but certainly containing a message, American Gun is the kind of film that will, at the very least, get all who watch it thinking.
Making of American Gun
This is a spot that I believe ran on IFC. It makes sense because that is the company that made this film. Many of the actors talk about the themes of the movie, their characters and why they behave as they do in the film. As there are about five main stars in the film, this segment does it's best to examine each of them so that we might know a little bit more about their character's story. Not anything we haven't seen before, but it again, it is dealing with some interesting subject matter.
Widescreen Version - Presented to preserve the aspect ratio of it's original theatrical exhibition. Enhanced for Widescreen TVs. There wasn't anything about this movie's look that grabbed me. I honestly appreciated that, too. There isn't a lot of flashiness, or excessive use of imagery to suggest religious meaning. Quite simply, the story is presented in as straightforward a manner as possible. The picture quality on the DVD looked as crisp and sharp as I expected it would.
Language: English Dolby Digital 5.1. Subtitled in English and French. My biggest problem with this movie, well actually movies that deal with "serious" subject matter, is that sometimes the actors play their roles as wounded animals. I got this sense from Cardellini and Whitaker. They seemed to be particularly ailed by these roles and because of that performed a lot of their scenes in whispers. I know that people in pain are going to lack congeniality, but not all people and I think sometimes thespians of today forget that.
A gun draped in the American Flag is the dominant image on this front cover. Next to it is a collage-like pattern of the cast. Truthfully, this cover makes this film look more action oriented than it really is. The back of this DVD packaging has a very short description of this film, some more images from the movie, a cast list and a few technical specs. There isn't anything that stands out about this movie, but it's artwork does the job of getting the images across.
I think we are living in a world where there are too many movies, too many options on how to view them, and as a result movies like American Gun sadly fall through the cracks. Quite honestly, I don't even know if this film played theatrically. I only became aware of it when I saw that it was on DVD. I think this is sad because this is actually a very solid film. It is filled with good performances, interesting characters and above all, a statement that should at least be heard. While I think people certainly should be allowed to bear arms, I sometimes wonder if we wouldn't be better off having much stricter controls on people's use of them.
American Gun is a solidly made film, that is quintessential in it's indy subject matter.
American Gun was released June 13, 2002.