Reality television is one of today’s most consumed forms of entertainment. One of the first forays into this genre was by PBS in 1973 with a show called An American Family. A small camera crew followed and documented the Loud family, a suburban middle-class family which seemed like the perfect average American family. PBS was hopeful audiences would tune in to see this revolutionary show and the rest is history. HBO Films released a TV movie called Cinema Verite, shedding light on the inner workings of the reality show’s production as well as its impact on pop culture.
Craig Gilbert (James Gandolfini) is a TV producer who selects the Loud family as the first American family to be filmed and documented for mass audiences to see. The family consists of the patriarch Bill (Tim Robbins), matriarch Pat (Diane Lane) and five children. The film shows the progression of the reality show’s filming and its later effects and impact on the family.
Diane Lane is the true star here. She portrays Pat Loud so convincingly that she almost leaps off the screen. James Gandolfini is also excellent as the morally ambiguous TV producer who basically wants to exploit the Louds. Cinema Verite is a wonderful film that explores reality TV’s roots and poses the strong question of wether or not certain things should be filmed and aired for the world to see.
Blu-ray Bonus Features
The bonus features for Cinema Verite are pretty good. There is a making of Cinema Verite documentary which provides a look behind the scenes of the film featuring interviews with the cast and crew. There is also an audio commentary with directors Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini and star Diane Lane.