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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
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Disappointing Despite Nunez's Typically Sublime Film-making
Victor Nunez is on par with a lot of directors who use their surroundings as their muse. Like Scorcese with New York, Mann with L.A., or Shamalyan with Pennsylvania, Nunez builds his stories around an area he knows well: east coast Florida. His masterpiece "Ulee's Gold" used the enchanting backdrop of Orlando's peaceful outskirts to build on the emotional aspects of its main character Ulee. The movie came alive from Nunez's subtle, but powerful focus on atmosphere, character nuance and rich symbolism.
It's disappointing that his follow-up "Coastlines" (which completes his "Panhandle Trilogy") had some of those elements in tact, but failed to use them effectively. The story is about a young man named Sonny (played by a well-cast Timothy Olyphant) who gets released from prison to a home town that has grown up without him. He gets back in touch with his old friend Dave, who is now a police officer and married to Sonny's old crush Ann. Simultaneously, he deals with unsettled issues from his old mobbed-up employers.
From that story come some potentially engaging themes like revenge, jealousy, nostalgia, disenchantment and betrayal. However, disappointment quickly sets in when the scenes become more and more dull. The screenplay was written before "Ulee's Gold," and is extremely similar, with many characters and back stories almost exactly mirroring those of the previous film. "Coastlines" brings nothing new to the table, and has no energy with the subject matter at hand. As the movie moves on, it becomes hard to shake the feeling that Nunez had run out of inspiration.
What the movie lacks despite energy is originality. The movie contains plenty of drama, but there is nothing happening that hasn't been done better in other movies. What Nunez needed, in order to transcend the clichés, was the rich undertones and subtexts that made "Ulee" so engrossing. Nunez needed another layer of depth to give weight to all the things going on in his story.
There is no doubt that Victor Nunez is an excellent independent director. However, that doesn't excuse the fact that "Coastlines" is a movie that simply didn't need to be made.
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