American Pastoral appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This turned into a terrific transfer.
Sharpness appeared strong. Virtually no softness materialized in this tight, well-defined presentation. I noticed no issues with shimmering or jagged edges, and both edge haloes and source flaws remained absent.
As one might expect from a period flick like this, Pastoral provided a stylized palette. Colors tended toward a golden/orange bent, with a little teal thrown in at times. The hues seemed satisfactory.
Blacks showed good depth and darkness, while shadows were solid. Across the board, everything about the image stood out as excellent.
Given the film’s character scope, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Pastoral didn’t boast a great deal of dynamic material. Nonetheless, it had its moments. Some violent scenes used the spectrum well, and various outside elements – trains, rivers, etc. - opened up the environment in a satisfying way. There wasn’t much to stand out, but the track did what it needed to do.
Audio quality was quite good. Speech was natural and concise, as the lines lacked noticeable concerns. Music was rich and warm as well.
Effects didn’t have a ton to do, but they were full and clear; the occasional louder elements showed positive punch as well. While nothing here impressed a ton, the track still was good enough for a “B-“.
Among the set’s extras, we find an audio commentary from actor/director Ewan McGregor. He delivers a running, screen-specific discussion of the source and its adaptation, story/characters, costumes, sets, locations and period details, music, cast and performances, visual design, and connected domains.
Overall, McGregor presents a pretty good chat. He offers an engaging personality and avoids the usual “happy talk” pitfalls much of the time, though he does go quiet a little too often. Still, McGregor fleshes out his experiences in a largely satisfying manner.
Two featurettes follow. Adapting An American Classic runs 28 minutes, two seconds and provides remarks from McGregor, producers Gary Lucchesi and Tom Rosenberg, screenwriter John Romano, and actors Jennifer Connelly, Dakota Fanning, Uzo Adoba, Rupert Evans, Valorie Curry and David Strathairn.
“Classic” looks at the source novel and its slow path to the screen, story, character and script issues, casting and performances, and McGregor’s impact as director. Inevitably, a moderate amount of happy talk emerges here, but “Classic” still manages to present a reasonable amount of good information.
Making the American Dream goes for 17 minutes, 38 seconds and features McGregor, Connelly, Lucchesi, Rosenberg, Romano, Fanning, cinematographer Martin Ruhe, production designer Dan Clancy, and costume designer Lindsay McKay. This piece examines sets and locations, cinematography, costumes and visual design. “Dream” covers its topics in a concise and compelling manner.
The disc opens with ads for Deepwater Horizon, Our Kind of Traitor, Hacksaw Ridge, and Indignation. No trailer for Pastoral appears here.
A second disc presents a DVD copy of Pastoral. It includes the same extras as the Blu-ray.
Ewan McGregor takes the reins as director for American Pastoral, but he does little to create a good movie. Saddled with an awkward script, the movie seems slippery and unconvincing in its attempts to create a family-based drama. The Blu-ray offers excellent picture along with generally good audio and a few informative bonus materials. Pastoral lacks much drive or emotional resonance, so it ends up as a flawed effort.