After serving time in prison, Sonny returns to his coastal Florida hometown, where life and the residents haven't changed much, including the local crime boss, Vance, who owes Sonny some money. When Sonny goes to collect, he gets beaten up, then his house is blown up and his father is killed. Sonny, while seeking revenge against Vance and his crime gang, moves into the home of his old friend Dave, the local sheriff, and his nurse wife Ann, and their two children. Soon, a romance forms between the grieving Sonny and Ann. Written by
This movie impressed way beyond my expectations. My wife left shortly after the beginning of the first viewing but stayed throughout on a second viewing and rated it as a very competently produced movie with deeper meanings which we were able to discuss at length.
Without its excellent script, direction and acting the story could have descended into the realm of a daytime dreary. For a casual viewer inured to daytime drearies, perhaps that's all they'd gain from "Coastlines" but, unfortunately, they'd be missing out on much more.
In Australia, we live directly above a superb beach and are quite familiar with the coastal atmosphere depicted in "Coastlines". In its US setting, however there was a freshness and many local differences which were brilliantly depicted and thoroughly enjoyable. One of the film's visual highlights was an aerial depiction of potentially intersecting car journeys between husband, Dave, and his wife, Ann. The tension of them possibly meeting was dramatically underscored by the loneliness of the chosen roads and the flat coastal scenery. The cars do not meet however and the camera moves up the show the vast hinterland. This sequence quintessentially underscored what was happening to the characters. It was one of many just brilliant parts of the film.
Typical of the film's authenticity was detail such as Dave's competent night-time manoeuvring of an outboard-powered boat as he reversed it from its moorings and even the screen on its depth sounder being alight. A lesser production would have the craft just ready to zoom into the night.
A previous reviewer takes issue with Victor Nunez "sound design choices". I'm not quite sure what this reviewer's referring to but, if its the film's background music, I couldn't disagree more. Normally, I enjoy only classical music, but in this film, the predominantly percussive music score faithfully echoes the drama of the dialog. All this is done at a virtually subconscious level. It's incredible Experiencing such powerful sound being kept so unobtrusive is worth a separate viewing of the film just to appreciate this achievement.
The film's acting was also first class. I'm not familiar with any of the actors but any director who avoided giving the part of Ann to the ubiquitous Meryl Streep, playing Meryl Streep, is a friend for life. Sarah Wynter playing Ann was brilliant, not only in the subtleties of her facial expression but in the small detail of gesture such as rubbing her fingers on a fat lady's shoulder as she ushered her through a medical centre or in responding to the children in the film, including her own. A previous reviewer observes that Ann's character "is at first heart warming but rapidly becomes disturbingly uncomfortable and tense, and oddly enough more so to the viewer than to the characters when the movie ends with a tentative resolve." This is an excellent description of the character's emotional spectrum. For me one of the most memorably tense exchanges was where she challenges her husband with her infidelity. He counter replies, "Is that it then?"
There are truly many layers of meaning to examine in this wonderful movie. A well-earned eight stars!
A previous reviewer believes the two other movies in Nunez "Panhandle Trilogy" are superior to "Coastlines". It is difficult to believe this but they're certainly well reviewed. We'll look forward very much to obtaining copies and watching them.
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