Film Crew: Derek Cianfrance / The Light Between Oceans

Once a filmmaker puts in enough work, their names begin to mean something. They have a level of trust with the audience that goes in to see their movies. You’d expect a film by Quentin Tarantino to be good, to be bloody, and to have a great script. Nowadays, you walk in to a film by M. Night Shyamalan and expect a mess (though I’d argue The Visit is truly great). Sometimes, to get to this level, you need to have a long filmography, or have been making films for at least a decade. With Derek Cianfrance, he made a film in 1998 called Brother Tied (which is unavailable to watch, anywhere) and then for the next twelve years he was in what he calls a “cinematic desert”.  He came back with two great films [Editor’s Note: Pshaw, as if.], and it seems like his third one will be just as great.


In 2010, Cianfrance released Blue Valentine, a heart-breaking, realistic take on relationships in today’s day and age. With relationships failing, and divorces more common than ever before, the film’s finale feels shattering as it juxtaposes them saying their vows with what may be the inevitable end of their relationship.

Blue Valentine shows the beginning of a relationship and the ending of one. The beginning was shot on 16mm while the ending was shot digitally (on the Red One). Derek Cianfrance took method filmmaking to an extreme shooting all of the beginning across three weeks and then having Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams live in a house together for a month, all to help get them into character. If it was up to the director, they would have waited 6 years before filming the second part. While living together, they had to go grocery shopping based on the salary that Gosling’s character Dean would have. Once the month was over, both Gosling and Williams had trouble taking off the wedding bands they had to wear.


He followed this intimate film with a generational story, The Place Beyond The Pines.

An ambitious move to give top billing to the guy who is only in the film for the first 50 minutes. While some argue “bait and switch”, it sets you up for the rest of the film. We see the connection to Bradley Cooper’s character, and it becomes entirely his story for the the second act. For the final act, it’s about both Cooper’s and Gosling’s kids. Dane DeHaan (in a great performance) and Brooklyn‘s Emory Cohen.

The next film he went and made won’t be out until September, but the trailer has finally dropped, so we can see what he has coming next.

The Light Between Oceans is a film based on the book of the same name by M.L. Stedman. Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, and Rachel Weisz star. Set in 1920’s Australia, Fassbender and Vikander’s characters find a baby girl washed up on a lifeboat and decide to raise her.

It’s a film I’m looking forward to, to an extreme degree, the cast and crew being one of the reasons why. The cinematographer is Adam Arkapaw, who is known for his work on the most recent cinematic adaptation of Macbeth, and also HBO’s True Detective (yes, he’s the guy other than Cary Joji Fukunaga who is behind that incredible 6 minute one-take shot).

If all this doesn’t excite you for Cianfrance’s next film, what could?


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