Coastlines reconfirms Victor Nunez’s intimate familiarity with the Florida panhandle, capturing (as did his prior Ruby in Paradise and Ulee’s Gold) the muggy, laidback ambiance and contentious old world/new world conflicts that characterize the sunny locale. Unfortunately, it’s also a reminder of his shortcomings as a dramatist. After three years in lockup, Sonny (Timothy Olyphant) returns to his small-town home, in the process upsetting the careful balance of two comfy duos: Fred (William Forsythe) and Eddie Vance (Josh Lucas), drug runners who owe former employee Sonny money; and cop Dave (Josh Brolin) and nurse practitioner Ann (Sarah Wynter), Sonny’s old married friends living a quiet domestic life with their two daughters. Sonny is hellbent on getting both what’s owed to him from his narcotics-dealing pals and into Ann’s pants, and Nunez’s contemplative directorial style—involving lots of patient close-ups and drawn-out encounters marked by little dialogue—sets a disquieting mood of happy, stable lives unexpectedly teetering on the brink of ruin. In the early going, Coastlines seems harmoniously attuned to the lackadaisical rhythm of its inviting environment, never more so than with a lazy sunset dinner at a gas station featuring laughter, tossed footballs, beer, and oysters served straight from the shell onto crackers. Once events begin spiraling out of control and suppressed passions begin bubbling to the surface, however, the filmmaker’s laconic pacing becomes a hindrance to any intended measure of suspense, just as his dedication to crafting a tangible sense of place comes at the expense of fleshed-out characters and motivation. And though the area’s traditional-versus-modern socio-economic tensions are intended to mirror Sonny’s interfering reemergence in Dave and Ann’s relationship, the film undersells the former and finds the latter sabotaged by off-key performances by Wynter (a bland, inexpressive presence) and, surprisingly, Olyphant, who has both his The Girl Next Door rakishness and Deadwood intensity diffused by countless scenes in which he’s asked to affect little more than a sleepy gait and blank gaze.
- IFC First Take
- 110 min
- Victor Nunez
- Victor Nunez
- Timothy Olyphant, Josh Brolin, Sarah Wynter, Scott Wilson, Angela Bettis, Daniel von Bargen, Josh Lucas, William Forsythe
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