With the powerhouse cast that this movie has one would think the film would have come out theatrically.
I would have liked a commentary track to have come with this DVD.
Like The Ice Harvest, The Big White is one of those chilly, caper-type, Fargo-like films that isn't nearly as bad as some people might have you believe. Robin Williams plays Paul Barnell, a man who is on the verge bankruptcy and whose wife (Holly Hunter) seems to be going crazy. In effort to raise money, Paul tries to collect on a life insurance policy from his missing brother (Woody Harrelson), but the insurance man (Giovanni Ribisi) puts the kibosh on that. So, Paul takes a dead body and claims that this is his brother. His only problem is that people are skeptical and two hit men are now on his trail.
While The Big White isn't as good as the other films that I mentioned here, it certainly isn't bad enough to not be released in theaters.
Behind the Scenes Featurette
Robin Williams is featured here a lot as he tells jokes and riffs for a long time in front of one of the cameramen. We also see contemplative moments of him and the film's director Mark Mylod. They discuss the story, the characters and what drew them to this kind of material. For a movie that is very under the radar, I was very surprised about Williams' degree of involvement.
This is an assortment of behind the scenes photos from the film mixed with some candid shots of the actors posing for the camera. There really aren't that many here to look at, but what is here is certainly worth checking out. They are also in color and most of them seem like they were taken from the movie itself.
Widescreen. Mark Mylod tries to get arty with this film but where I think he excels is when he simply tells the story. This movie has captured the coldness of Alaska and one can visibly see how these conditions have not only affected the characters, they also seem to have done something to the actors. While I don't think there is anything about the look of The Big White that stands out, it certainly has a sure directorial hand.
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround. This movie has paid a lot of attention to the visual aspects while not really caring about the audio. This doesn't mean that it's bad it's just that the sound isn't employed to get into anyone's heads. It merely underscores the action and in doing so serves it's function simply.
Robin Williams and Holly Hunter grace this front cover with images of all the cast members placed somewhere behind them. I did a double take when I looked at this because it just seemed a film I would have heard about before seeing it on DVD. The back cover gives us some shots from the movie (none of which show Robin Williams), a description, a Specials Features/Technical Specs list and a cast list. Nothing too amazing but I think the cast is what's supposed to grab you.
You know something is weird if a cast features the kind of people that this one does and the movie didn't even come out theatrically. One would think that Robin Williams is enough of a draw by himself to bring in an audience, but Holly Hunter, Giovanni Ribisi and Woody Harrelson seem like enough star wattage to seal the deal. Okay, so the film doesn't get released theatrically, but I have to think that any studio would be able to do something with it on home video. This isn't a slag on Echo Bridge Home Entertainment, but I tend to think that this movie is the jewel in their crown of releases.
Overall, I would say The Big White is certainly worth a rental.
The Big White was released October 27, 2005.