Cianfrance. I always think of Blue Valentine as his debut but he actually had a 1998 film called Brother Tied that I have not yet been able to catch. Regardless, Blue Valentine landed a dozen years later as one of the absolute best films of 2010. He quickly followed that up with The Place Beyond the Pines and looked destined for great things for the remainder of the decade and beyond. We’re still waiting at this point. The Light Between Oceans wasn’t a throwaway but wasn’t on the level of his 2010 and 2012 entries. He works in drama and his best scenes have a naturalism and feel of dangerous spontaneity. However, there’s clearly a careful structure for the unveiling of the drama—and he infuses a distinct visuals to pair with the powerhouse acting to make you think it leans more towards Bergman and Antonioni than just another rock solid indie.
Best film: Blue Valentine. Yes, it features herculean acting performances from Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling—but Cianfrance’s dedication to a color design carries the film—gorgeous.
total archiveable films: 3
top 100 films: 0
top 500 films: 0
top 100 films of the decade: 1 (Blue Valentine)
most overrated: Cianfrance does not have an overrated film. The only film of his that registers at all on TSPDT is Blue Valentine which lands as #20 of 2010 on the TSPDT consensus list for the 21st century. So that is obviously underrated.
most underrated : The Place Beyond the Pines. This did not make the cut for the TSPDT 21st century list. That means the consensus has at least 47 films ahead of it from 2012 alone— ugh—yuck. The Place Beyond the Pines doesn’t pack the wallop of Blue Valentine but it is strong enough (and similar enough) to confirm Cianfrance’s 2010 breakout was no happy (or painfully unhappy rather-haha) accident. The ambitious story, running time (140 mins) is certainly not too much for Cianfrance.
gem I want to spotlight : The Light Between Oceans
- It’s a strong melodrama- which is a genre- not a criticism (news to some critics)
- The plotting has issues and the name of the damn movie is tough to get past—but it’s beautifully photographed and well-acted, even if it comes a as a disappointment because it’s from a talent like Cianfrance
- Fassbender is very good here. It’s largely an internal performance. He has that post-War WW1 stare.
- Classical storytelling with lush photography—not as strong but reminds me of Minghella’s work
- Strong score from Desplat
- The actual narrative set up is from The Shining– he’s asked to be caretaker of a remote place and the guy who did the job previously killed himself
- DP is — Adam Arkapaw—did True Detective
- Like many critics I wish more of the film was silent (or the whole thing), strong visual overtones, establishing shots, pottery-barn-like well-done interiors—underrated magic hour work
- Has plotting issues—Fassbender leaves hints for Weisz character which seems really un-formally sound and uncharacteristic (but good for the movie viewers). And then she, driven by the memory of a kind husband, tells Vikander that she’ll give the kid back if Vikander testifies against her husband. = soapy
- Lots of letters and voice over back and form
- The acting is strong- all three leads
- Disappointment for Cianfrance but still about the 40th best film of 2016 and in the archive
- The intimacy and rawness of an indie with wide-reaching narrative scope and visual grandeur
- Certainly has stayed in the drama genre
- Baumbach’s Marriage Story, or Bergman’s Scenes From a Marriage have to come to mind– Ali Fear Eats the Soul from Fassbinder
- Reoccurring use of overhead shots in Place Beyond the Pines and the brilliant use of color hues in Blue Valentine
- Examination of a family or marriage— carefully structured — Place Beyond the Pines in ambitious three part structure and Blue Valentine telling the rise and fall of love, and a marriage—in a harrowing two-part structure. Nuance, guilt, pain- fully explored
- Blue Valentine
- The Place Beyond the Pines
- The Light Between Oceans
By year and grades
|2010- Blue Valentine||MS|
|2012- The Place Beyond the Pines||R/HR|
|2016- The Light Between Oceans||R|
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives