Tag Archives: Derek Cianfrance

The Light Between Oceans

The Light Between Oceans is a film for the literary sort. It’s poetically paced, languid in its development. It’s about a man (Michael Fassbender) who, having survived the war, is keen on some isolation and takes a job as a lighthouse keeper on a lonely island. He doesn’t count on falling in love, and is delighted to double the population of his rock when he takes a wife (Alicia Vikander). Now all they need is a baby and they’ll have a real population boom on their hands.

the-light-between-oceans-heroine-alicia-vikander-picturesBut wait. The babies aren’t coming so easily for this young couple. In fact, the only baby that comes is one that washes ashore, screaming in her dead father’s arms. It’s the lighthouse keeper’s duty to report orphaned baby to the mainland, no matter how much his distraught, infertile, grieving wife may want to keep her. Right?

The Light Between Oceans is beautifully shot by DP Adam Arkapaw; you’ll be sick of the postcard-perfect scenery by the end of the movie. We get it, it’s gorgeous. Fassbender and Vikander fit right in (once she shaves off his mustache anyway), pantomiming love so well they actually fell in love themselves, and are a couple to this day. They’re committed in their roles and aren’t to be blamed when this film ultimately falters.

What makes it stumble?  The pace may be a deterrent. While I was okay with the unhurried the-light-between-oceanspace, I worried that Sean was bored. Or asleep. He assured me he was neither, and I nearly believe him. Second, and hugely, is the contrived plot which forces the characters to behave rather stupidly. As much as you want to like them, and have liked them, you will grow frustrated. And emotional: director Derek Cianfrance is adamant that you cry. He will not be satisfied, or leave well enough alone, until you do.

The Place Beyond The Pines

This movie was primarily filmed on location in Schenectady, New York. Schenectady literally means “beyond the pine plains” in Mohawk, so now you know where writer-MV5BMTcyODUxMjIzOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjE3MzM0OQ@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_director Derek Cianfrance got the name (it’s where his wife grew up). As for what it’s about, well, that’s another story.

It’s about a motorcycle stunt driver played by Ryan Gosling who finds out he impregnated a carnival groupie the last time he was in town, so he drops out of the circus in order to be a Baby Daddy, except the groupie (Eva Mendes) already has someone to help raise her child (Mahershala Ali), so there’s not a lot of extra room for a bum. In order to show what a good provider he can be, he and his buddy (Ben Mendelsohn) start robbing banks. And you know what? It actually works. For a little while, they’re almost a happy family. But robbing banks is a risky business that eventually catches up with him. Enter trigger happy cop guy (Bradley Cooper). Later MV5BYTczY2U4ODctMGU3Ni00MmYwLTlmMDktOGUzZDcyMTM5OGEwL2ltYWdlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjcyNzA2MjE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1500,1000_AL_Cooper will be remembered as a hero but we’ll all know he’s dirty. And what do dirty cops do? They run for public office!

It’s an interesting movie because it’s about that place where two lives intersect, and how quickly they can change the course of each other’s lives. And it’s also about legacy, and the burden that the little carnie baby is going to carry with him for the rest of his life. The Place Beyond the Pines is a search for truth; it displays the emotional intensity that the Gosling-Cianfrance combination brought in Blue Valentine (which I love but can’t stand to watch). And it reminds us about the shades of grey in everyone: how the “bad guy” bank robber can rock his baby gently to sleep, and the “good guy” cop can be corrupt as hell.