Today: April 15, 2024

The Violent Zone

In The Violent Zone (‘Coastlines’ is its US title), ex-con Sonny, played by Timothy Oyphant, returns to his coastal Florida hometown after a stretch in prison, getting out early due to overcrowding. He finds, as one does in these places, that little of the place and residents has changed in his absence.

In The Violent Zone (‘Coastlines’ is its US title), ex-con Sonny,
played by
Timothy Oyphant, returns
to his coastal Florida hometown after a stretch in prison, getting out early
due to overcrowding. He finds, as one does in these places, that little of the
place and residents has changed in his absence.

One
of the local heads who is still very much in situ is local crime boss Vance,
who, of course, owes Sunny some money. When the latter goes to collect, he gets
violently beaten instead – then his house is blown up and his father is killed
(violent game, indeed).

Sunny
is now on the road to revenge, and while planning his next move, goes to live
with old pal Dave (No Country For Old
Men
’s Josh Brolin) the local sheriff,
his wife, a nurse called Ann and their two kids. You guessed it – all too soon,
an attraction develops between the deeply messed-up Sonny and his friend’s listless
wife – never a good combination.

Written,
directed, and edited by Victor Nunez,
this film is the third of the filmmaker’s trilogy set in the Florida Panhandle.
Not often depicted in filmic representations of the sunshine state, this is
no-man’s land, where you can see coastal scrub for miles and rednecks share
their living space with drug dealers and dodgy tourism under the sweltering
heat.

Given the ingredients, The
Violent Zone could have been a sultry and atmospheric little thriller, but it
fails to live up to that promise. Like the two films that went before it, Ruby in Paradise (a star vehicle for Ashley Judd) and Ulee’s Gold, for which Peter
Fonda
received the best-actor award from the New York Film Critics Circle,
its lead characters are delicately sketched, and we are offered a great insight
into their moods and desires.

But though the acting is spot-on,
the rather schizophrenic script is not as strong, and scenes of vigilante
justice mix with hot sex scenes in an uneasy genre-hopping mix, seeming to
swing between wanting to be a gritty cop drama and some kind of emotive soap opera,
never quite succeeding to be either.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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