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Review: ‘Live Cargo’ is an ambitious Bahamas-set drama that comes up short

Lakeith Stanfield in the film "Live Cargo."
(Gunpowder & Sky Distribution / Gunpowder & Sky Distribution)

Logan Sandler’s “Live Cargo” is stuffed with arty close-ups and stunning backdrops, but the emotions to connect them are missing. A black-and-white meander into the dark heart of a Bahamas tourist town populated by the grieving, the soul-sick, and the nearly empty, it’s a visually arresting first feature that on one level tries to cover too much, and on another barely registers. For young married couple Nadine (Dree Hemingway) and Lewis (Lakeith Stanfield), the island is a refuge after a stillborn birth, especially under the watchful eye of kind family figure and community leader Roy (Robert Wisdom), who operates boat tours. Roy keeps another eye on local kingpin Doughboy (Leonard Earl Howze), a human trafficker, and sees an opportunity to exert a more positive influence on a scrawny homeless teen (Sam Dillon) who works for Doughboy. Between major criminality and personal mourning, the terrain is chockablock with tension, and in Daniella Nowitz’s cinematography, Sandler has a brilliant partner for his island noir vibe. But the script is wanting for the rudiments of storytelling, and the first-time feature director’s penchant for pensive staring, rather than people using their words, is ultimately the movie’s doom, especially in how feeble the under-nourished performances of Hemingway and Stanfield become.

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“Live Cargo”

1 hour, 28 minutes

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Not rated

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