Director: Logan Sandler
Cast: Dree Hemingway, Keith Stanfield, Robert Wisdom, Leonard Earl Howze, and Sam Dillon.
Studio: SimonSays Entertainment
Release: In Select Theaters Friday, March 31, 2017.
Rated: Not Rated
Live Cargo is one of those films you can tell is a passion project. Being inspired by writer and director Logan Sandler’s own experiences growing up in the Bahamas, there’s a sense of care and dedication behind everything you see. And despite some shortcomings, Sandler’s debut film is strong, showcasing a filmmaker who has a bright future ahead of him.
Live Cargo follows Nadine (Dree Hemingway) and Lewis (Keith Stanfield) after the couple suffers the loss of their child. The pair decides to take a vacation at Nadine’s family home on an island in the Bahamas in an effort to heal and mend their relationship. While there, Nadine takes an interest in Myron (Sam Dillon), a homeless teenager, and worries when he gets involved with a criminal known as Doughboy (Leonard Earl Howze). She asks family friend and mayor of the island, Roy (Robert Wisdom), to help him but Doughboy has sinister plans in store for Myron.
What I admire most about Live Cargo is Sandler’s choice to tell the story utilizing mostly visuals and very little dialogue. The film is quiet, moving slowly and methodically. Shooting it in black and white results in a movie that’s atmospheric and keeps you in a constant state of unease. It can move a little too slowly, primarily during the first act, but the pace quickens the further it goes.
There’s a sense of voyeurism to the film that adds to the uneasiness. It feels more like the audience is spying on the characters, giving Live Cargo an uncomfortable sense of realism that’s heightened with the use of black and white. It would have been easy to have the film look like a commercial, showing off the lush landscapes and the bright tropical colors, but the decision to go in the opposite direction pays off.
Unfortunately, as a whole, Nadine and Lewis really bring Live Cargo down. I found their story arc to be not that compelling. Stanfield and Hemingway are good in their roles;their performances are nuanced and subtle, conveying the grief their characters are going through in a way that looks and feels real. However, despite being executed competently, the characters and their storyline are not memorable due to a lack of depth in how they’re written. The performances help keep you interested but that’s not enough to get you emotionally invested in them.
Myron’s story, however, is well done and, at times, hard to watch. Dillon’s portrayal of Myron is reserved and complex; he is able to convey several emotions while barely saying a word. The scenes he shares with Howze are the most gripping in Live Cargo. The two work off each other flawlessly; watching as Myron is manipulated into doing Doughboy’s bidding is tragic to watch. Myron’s story is more fleshed-out and developed than Nadine and Lewis’, so much so, I wish the film’s primary focus had been on him instead.
The script of Live Cargo, co-written by Thymaya Payne, has some inadequacies but Sandler’s direction is unique, showcasing a great performance by newcomer Dillon. Overall, Live Cargo is flawed but still a solid product that’s worth checking out.
All Photos: ©2017 SimonSays Entertainment Pictures. All Rights Reserved
© 2017, Dustin Kogler. All rights reserved.
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