In an economically devastated Alaskan town, a fisherman with a troublesome past dates a woman whose young daughter does not approve of him. When he witnesses the murder of his shady brother, he, the woman and the kid run to the wilderness.
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Limbo tells the story of people trying to reinvent themselves in the Southeastern islands of Alaska. The story revolves around Joe Gastineau, a fisherman traumatised by an accident at sea years before, singer Donna de Angelo and her disaffected daughter Noelle who come into Joe's life. When Joe's fast-talking half-brother Bobby returns to town and asks Joe for a favor, the lives of the characters are changed forever. Written by
In a scene near the beginning Donna (Mastrantonio) and Joe (Straithairn) are riding in his truck. Donna's cigarette smoke is blowing away behind her and in close-up her hair is moving, but throughout the scene you can see the windows are obviously both closed. See more »
Donna De Angelo:
...and when you are of age you are free to fuck up your own life, but until that time I'm afraid it's *my* job!
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I don't know all of Sayles work, but I plan to. This film really impressed me.
What I look for is a few things, that if done well will really satisfy. Among them are:
--daring use of the cinematic medium
--transporting me to a conceptual space that I otherwise wouldn't have experienced
CINEMATIC: Sayles is a storyteller, who thoroughly understands what it means to build a narrative scaffold using film. This is theater completely recast for the unique strengths of film, and only possible when the same person writes, directs and edits. This camera is literally introduced as a character when noelle offers it an `hoordoov.' The camera participates, the lights participate. We have overlapping dialog, overlapping cuts, multiple views of the same scene. We have long panning multithreaded scenes. We have a dramatic pacing which starts slow, sets a lot of potential threads and convincingly fools you into relying on certain expectations.
Then narrative commitments are made before you are ready, and then come faster and more unexpectedly until the very gutsy end. Sayles knows in real storytelling, there's a game between teller and listener, each trying to outwit the other. A masterful storyteller teases but plays by the rules, allowing the reader to take risks. It takes craft to do this in the written word, and is extremely rare using the more intimate but external and slippery experience of cinema.
TRANSPORTING: Alaskan wilderness as theme park where stories are safely refined for casual visitors. That would be enough given this level of craft. But Sayles takes us into Noelle's diary world. That's the center of this film's world, the world of the mystical Shefox. Deep imagery here -- superficially referenced in the `real' action. I do not expect to ever forget that visit. The self-reference is in both.
Much has been made of the actors, and I think that a mistake since the creative force here is clearly Sayles. But this girl Martinez has some magic. Who will write parts for her?
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