No one can seem to think ill of regional humanist Victor Nuñez (Ruby in Paradise, Ulee's Gold), but this low-budget Florida old-schooler is generally half the storytelling powerhouse he is claimed to be and twice the amateurish cliché-monger. This, his latest film, sat undistributed for four years, despite a cast (Josh Brolin, Timothy Olyphant, Josh Lucas, Scott Wilson, William Forsythe) that should have paid its way to a shelf at Blockbuster. Virtually everything about Coastlines, from its title to the scenario that tracks a laconic good old boy (Olyphant) as he returns from prison to his Gulf Coast swamp town and its still-tempting criminal backside, telegraphs the hand of an idea-free newbie, not three decades' experience crafting "personal" cinema. Brolin and Sarah Wynter, as the married woman swayed by the new boy in town, find a few genuine moments over a kitchen table, but Nuñez's script is a limping, obvious bore. For some fans, the taste of on-location color matters most, but Nuñez's idea of the characters' ordinariness translates to flavorlessness, and he lights and shoots his scenes with a high schooler's care, often not even bothering to match up sight lines. Merely going to Sopchoppy, Florida, with actors is not quite enough.
Get the Film Club Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.