Coastlines
IFC Films // R // $24.95 // February 6, 2007
Review by Francis Rizzo III | posted March 15, 2007
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R E V I E W S
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In 10 Words or Less
Love, lust, revenge and boredom...your average Florida day

Reviewer's Bias*
Loves: A good small-town tale
Likes: Tim Olyphant
Dislikes: Cheaters
Hates: Small-time criminals

The Movie
Some people are small-town people. They are born in a small town, they live their lives in a small town and they die in a small town. People who live in the big city stop by on vacation, and wonder how these people don't run for the bright lights at the first opportunity, but they don't understand. Once you get know the people, most every small town has its share of interesting stories.

Take the small Florida town depicted in Coastlines. Living amongst the everyday are criminals, ex-cons and people generally unhappy with their place in life. Watching over them, sherriff Dave Lockhart (Josh Brolin) keeps the peace, which normally consists of calming down the local drunks and looking into the occasional burglary, which keeps his life with his wife Ann (Sarah Wynter) and his two daughters rather consistent.

Then Sonny (Tim Olyphant) comes home. Having been in prison for a few years for his role in a heist, he's got to catch up with the people he left behind, like his good friends Dave and Ann, and his partners in crime, Fred and Eddie Vance (William Forsythe and Josh Lucas.) In neither case are his intentions all that good, as he looks to reconnect with Ann, and get his share of the take from the Vances. Things only get worse when the Vances firmly disagree with Sonny's claim, with extreme force.

As Dave tries to keep his buddy out of trouble, his own life unravels, forcing him to make some decisions he certainly never thought he'd have to make. It also sets up a triangle of conflicts that raises what could have been a simple story about revenge into a more layered story about the power of expectations.

Olyphant, playing an amorphous character who can seem heroic one moment, demonic the next, shows the acting ability that has made him one of the most underrated performers out there, a kind of next-best Christian Bale. He's matched step for step by Lucas, whose performance recalls the kind of gruff honesty Sam Sheppard gives. He's come a long way from The Goonies.

Writer/director Victor Nunez (Ulee's Gold, Ruby in Paradise) is obviously enamored with the area, and his straightforward style doesn't attempt to sell it as something exotic or unique, but instead makes it feel like home, while the characters are a part of the setting, instead of just existing in it. The authenticity of it all makes it easy to get into the story.

The only downside to the story is the hokey way the Sonny revenge storyline wraps up, caused mainly by a combination of budget and Nunez's inexperience with certain types of scenes. A very real movie hits a Hollywood roadbump at this point, and though it recovers nicely, on the strength of Brolin's performance, it pulls you out of the film, and makes for a stretch of rough road, when the film needed momentum.

The DVD
A one-disc release, this DVD is packed in a standard keepcase, and features an animated anamorphic widescreen menu with options to watch the film, select scenes, adjust languages and check out the special features. There are no audio options, but subtitles are available in English SDH and Spanish. There is no closed captioning.

The Quality
The anamorphic widescreen transfer is good, with nice color, but the image is a bit soft and doesn't have a lot of detail to it. There are no issues with dirt or damage or digitalartifacts though, and the transfer remains clear throughout.

The film has a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, but it's not very active, with the majority of the dialogue-focused sound coming from the center channel. Even when the sound effects or music seems like it should built in strength, there's barely anything coming out of the surrounds. On the plus side, the dialogue is nice and clear.

The Extras
There aren't a lot of extras here, but we do get an audio commentary by Nunez, and he provides a solid track that balances a good deal of insight about the story with some technical background on the production. There aren't any dead spots, and he avoids the over-congratulating that indie films can suffer from, instead providing some real thoughts about what went into the film.

A deleted scene is also included, which changes the way the film ends a bit. Some welcome commentary by Nunez is available here also, as he explains the decision to cut this clip.

The Bottom Line
An intimate film about love, friendship and the decisions they force people to make, Coastlines has a lot going for it, namely some strong acting and a solid job at the helm from Nunez. Sure, at a key point in the film the whole thing trips over an attempt to do something dramatic, but the story is good enough to recover from this stumble and continue to a good, if not entirely satisfying ending. The quality if the DVD is good, but doesn't blow you away, and the limited extras supplement the film nicely. Fans of Nunez's previous films will want to check out this latest outing, as will those who enjoy exploring the drama of everyday life, but owning the disc might not be necessary.



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