CinemaDave (cinemadave) wrote,
CinemaDave
cinemadave

"Islander" - a peaceful cinematic retreat

In between the release of loud movies like "300" and
"Wild Hogs" will be the local screening of
"Islander," a quiet film with plenty of visual
poetry. Director and co writer Ian McCrudden has
created a rare drama that is not normally seen on the
big screen anymore. Produced on a low budget,
"Islander" contains breathtaking cinematography, the
slow pace of a southern told tale and a narrative with
a complete middle and end.

Eben Cole (Tom Hildreth, who is the other co writer)
is married to Cheryl (Amy Jo Johnson - remember the
Pink Ranger from the "Might Morphin Power Rangers"
kiddie show?) and have a small girl. Eben is a proud
lobster man who runs afoul corporate lobster men.
Despite the protest of his father (Larry Pine) and
Uncle (Philip Baker Hall), Eben decides to have a
showdown with the corporate lobster men.

The results are tragically disastrous and Eben is sent
to prison. After a five year sentence, Eben is shunned
by his community, his ex wife and daughter. Things go
from bad to worst when Eben is injured helping one of
the few nice people on the island. Yet in his darkest
moments, Eben finds grace in the most unlikely places.

As the title character, Tom Hildreth gives an
understated performance Early in the film Eben suffers
from youthful arrogance. After his tragic mistake,
Eben becomes a stoic iceberg. His one emotional meltdown
occurs when he must say "Goodbye" to his estranged
daughter.

With the postcard presentation of the Maine coast,
"Islander" contains performances based on
conviction. Amy Jo Johnson jettisons her
"Power Ranger powerpack with a mature performance. Of note
is Amy Jo Johnson's use of vocal technique; as the
character becomes more embittered, her voice becomes
more gravely and toadlike. Her Cheryl goes from a
young mother to an embittered smoker. Johnson's
transition is confident.

Given his stuffed shirt roles in "Seinfeld,"
"Zodiac," "The Insider" and "Magnolia," Philip
Baker Hall gives a comfortable performance as an old
salt. While his appearance is humble, the character is
really the island power broker with a soul and states
the best line in the movie;

"You find peace by the sacrifices you make."

Despite the fictional elements, "Islander" has the
feel of a personal documentary. Many shots are devoted
to the detail of pulling lobster traps from the briny
deep and bait being cut. While the film is low budget,
it does contain some of the best outdoor photography
filmed on the open sea. Director of photography Dan
Coplan should receive an award by the Maine tourist
council. "Islander" is definitely a vacation from
the ordinary motion pictures.
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