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William Dickerson
Michaela Cavazos, Conor Proft, Harry Hamlin
Writing Credits:
William Dickerson, Dwight Moody

This coming-of-age drama blasts open the world of grunge-era teenagers in the early 90s MPAA:
Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 97 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 4/2/2019

• Trailer


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No Alternative [Blu-Ray] (2018)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 18, 2019)

A coming of age tale, 2018’s No Alternative takes us back to the “Grunge Rock” 1990s. Teenaged Thomas Harrison (Conor Proft) loves Nirvana and after the death of Kurt Cobain, he plays in a rock band.

While Thomas pursues his own music, younger sister Bridget (Michaela Cavazos) decides to create and play rap songs, albeit with an odd angle: she performs lyrics from the POV of a black man. Both work on their material while they go through plenty of other personal complications.

Writer/director William Dickerson based the film on his novel of the same name, and the story clearly uses autobiographical notions. In particular, Bridget acts as a doppelganger of Dickerson’s late sister Briana.

While I appreciate what the project must mean to Dickerson, he doesn’t manage to create a compelling film. It comes as no surprise that Alternative adapts a novel, as the movie’s screenplay packs in too much material for its running time and often feels like an abbreviated version of a more detailed source.

If Dickerson just made this about the two teens’ musical pursuits, it could’ve worked within the 97 minutes it gets. However, the choice to expand into so many other personal areas means the end result can’t flesh out the characters or their issues well.

What issues? Thomas deals with the pressures of college applications and fears about his future, while he also struggles with a nascent romantic relationship.

In addition, we learn that Bridget suffers from an abundance of mental health issues. She engages in her own boyfriend situation, one impacted by her apparent decline.

Oh, and their father (Harry Hamlin) works as a judge, one with political aspirations. He becomes a figure of controversy when he grants bail to a woman who then kills some people.

After this, Judge Harrison brings a handgun into the house. You don’t have to be Anton Chekhov to see where that’ll go.

That’s part of the issue here: in addition to the “overstuffed” nature of Alternative, too many plot points seem telegraphed. Others go by the wayside completely and lack the follow through they need to succeed.

All of this leads us to a sketchy movie that often collapses into cheap melodrama. Alternative comes with too much narrative for its length and the exposition and evolution falter.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus D-

No Alternative appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie came with a pretty good presentation.

For the most part, sharpness seemed more than adequate. The image could be a bit soft at times, but we usually found fairly positive delineation.

No signs of jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and I noticed no edge haloes. Print flaws remained absent.

Colors tended toward a low-key sense of teal. These tones weren’t especially appealing, but they looked acceptably well-depicted given the design choices.

Blacks were fairly dense, while shadows showed appropriate clarity. The image never excelled but it felt fine overall.

Unsurprisingly, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio leaned heavily on music. Effects had little to do and failed to flesh out the spectrum in an appreciable manner.

Music carried the load, and the songs managed to fill the speakers pretty well. The five channels presented a lot of music and operated in a moderately engaging manner.

In terms of quality, speech felt natural and concise, without edginess or intelligibility issues. Effects seemed accurate enough, although they didn’t have much to do.

I felt music demonstrated good range and life, with songs that came across as reasonably full. Nothing here excelled but the mix felt adequate for this kind of story.

The disc includes a trailer but it lacks any other extras.

Despite its semi-autobiographical nature, No Alternative never manages to feel especially convincing as a coming of age drama. The movie packs in too much narrative material for its 97 minutes and little of it works. The Blu-ray brings generally fine picture and audio but it lacks supplements. Alternative has potential but it’s too spotty to succeed.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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