American Film Institute alum Logan Sandler’s feature directorial debut, “Live Cargo,” which premiered at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival to glowing reviews, is based on writer-director’s own experience growing up in and around the Bahamas. A meditation on love, loss and healing in a post-colonial world, “Live Cargo” was shot entirely in black and white, and upends the “tropical paradise” archetype through its sharp, neorealist focus on the day-to-day of the island community.
Although its breathtaking black-and-white neo-noir cinematography (courtesy of Daniella Nowitz), while beautiful to look at, can’t quite make up for the film’s lack of a fully fleshed out the story, which frustrates because it has the potential to be a better film than it ultimately is. The talented group of actors certainly do their best with the material given to them, but the narrative is too thin.
Co-written and produced by fellow American Film Institute alum Thymaya Payne (director and producer of the award-winning documentary “Stolen Seas”), “Live Cargo” follows young couple Nadine (Dree Hemingway) and Lewis (Lakeith Stanfield), who retreat to a small Bahamian island after a devastating loss, where Nadine’s family has kept a house for many years. As they try to heal and move forward with their relationship, the community on the island shows signs of unraveling – with the island’s mayor, Roy (Robert Wisdom), squaring off against Doughboy (Leonard Earl Howze), a human trafficker who manipulates the impressionable homeless teenager Myron (newcomer Sam Dillon) into assisting with his smuggling operation.
FilmBuff picked up the film and has now released it on VOD platforms like iTunes, Amazon and others (it premiered on March 31st).
A trailer that showcases the film’s evocative cinematography is embedded below: