A Love Song for Bobby Long is beautiful movie, shot on location in New Orleans. It’s also a character-driven movie about a headstrong girl, Pursy Will (Scarlett Johansson), who goes back to her mother’s house only to find she missed her mother’s funeral. The house is haunted by two literary alcoholics – Bobby Long (John Travolta) and Lawson Pines (Gabriel Macht). They are seemingly determined to commit suicide by drinking themselves to death, taking an occasional break for a quote or a song.
Pursy decides to stay in the dilapidated house, much to Bobby’s surprise and displeasure. Lawson has spent the last nine years writing a book on Bobby’s life, which is the life of a failed English professor. We never see him write anything though. The only indication these nine years have yielded some pages is when he throws them one by one into the fireplace. He does get warm in the act and he almost gets the girl, so there’s some good news for authors of worthless novels.
Both Pursy and Bobby get their character arcs (Lawson doesn’t). Pursy paints and redecorates the house and gets to go to school. Bobby cuts on his drinking and actually goes to see a doctor. The movie manages to crawl predictably to a happy end of sorts by announcing that Bobby and Pursy are now father and daughter (and have always been apparently).
Compared to… “Sideways” is a movie which focuses on drinking and writing and is clearly superior despite its lack of A-list actors. As to the “drinking yourself to death” part, I think Mike Figgis’ “Leaving Las Vegas” does a much more accurate portrayal of an alcoholic. I’m still amazed the doctors found nothing wrong with Bobby, yet he passed away several scenes later.
Overall, this is a pleasant, warm movie with good performances. It has a Golden Globe nomination which I attribute to the fact that a movie about writers will get a nod from a jury consisting of journalists.
I continue my review with a “lesson” that I got from watching it. On to Lesson: A Love Song for Bobby Long.