With the Current: 'Somewhere with No Bridges'
An air of spirits flow through Martha's Vineyard day after day.
What movies would you’ve recommended to Senator Ted Cruz on his shameful flight back from Cancun?:
Alive (a little stress can go a long way)
Snakes on a Plane (too on the nose?)
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 2 (the horror)
Totally Under Control (something he is not)
Unaccompanied Minors (eh)
Links (to read & watch)
Somewhere with No Bridges
By the sum of all accounts, fisherman Richie Madeiras was widely felt to be a joyful spirit for the people of Martha’s Vineyard. Somewhere with No Bridges is never without a glowing word or wonderful gaze of reminiscence about this man, making it something more than a film; It’s a grand eulogic essay on the effect that a person has on a community as a whole, and vice versa. And what are we all without our respective communities? Who will remember us when we’re gone? Will we be missed? These questions and sentiments come and go with the calm fury of the tides.
Director Charles Frank crafts this very personal story (he’s an extended family member) of a man long gone as if he were painting with two hands - one with the brush, the other to steady it all. We hear his voice-over now and then, as even he ponders what this film is and what it will become. This unease is at its highest display towards the end, when scene after scene feels like a proper finale, only to punch us further in the gut. This isn’t a terrible way of making a movie, as sometimes stories like these have a loose life of their own. As Charles hunts for the heart of his project, we follow along unseen but understood in the back of his mind. We’re with him, even if not there.
As Richie’s family recounts his life with such bright happiness and color, Charles cuts in home video and old photographs of the man in the prime of his life, being with friends, his family, and his children. These are the kind of videos and photos that have timestamps in the corner and notes on the back, set up ahead for remembering fondly. One can’t help but long for such fragments of time - the type that feels a bit more tangible, but is just as fragile as memories themselves.
But while the film’s approach is fragile, its story and its aesthetic are not. Somewhere with No Bridges isn’t completely linear, but it’s never difficult to understand. More or less, the through-line is director Charles Frank’s efforts in not just telling us who Richie was and why he is so beloved, but also what makes Martha’s Vineyard so vividly alive. There are slow sweeping shots of the ocean and its coastline that can’t go on long enough. There’s a calming air that everyone breathes in, even as winds pick up and storms come in. When a story of how a dear friend removed an arm sling to make a snowball to throw at Richie’s headstone, the reason as given was “Richie hates snowballs.” These are the moments that make the movie truly special, when it breaks away from being about one person to being about everyone left around. It’s not just a eulogy or a meditation, but a living ghost tale. A place without bridges indeed.
This is Richie’s story, but also that of a community and their environment, almost at once trying to find if and how one makes the other. People carry memories and lives with them, but maybe places do too. Maybe there’s a stamp in a corner of a beach, or a note out in the water. Somewhere with No Bridges loses itself in fits and bursts, but that’s not a too bad; it’s only human. It’s a living quality. And in a movie all about living qualities, would you expect anything different?
Find out more about the movie here.
Based out of “Hollywood South” New Orleans, Bill Arceneaux has written about movies and moviegoing for publications like Big Easy Magazine, Film Threat, Bayou Brief, Occupy, DIG Baton Rouge, OffBeat Magazine, The Hammond Daily Star, and others since 2011. A member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association and Rotten Tomatoes approved, his favorite films range from APOCALYPSE NOW to ROMAN HOLIDAY, depending on which way the wind blows. Find out about his latest exploits on Twitter at @BillReviews!