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Derek Cianfrance’s doomed romance heads out to sea



MELODRAMA has a bad rap. Critics talk with horror of a film “descending” into melodrama or “sinking” into sentimentality, but to a director like Douglas Sirk, melodrama was a heightened state, not a lowered one. During Hollywood’s golden era, moviemakers would no more have written an unsentimental film than they would have filmed an unfunny joke or an unexciting chase. Why bother? These days, old softies like Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg can be relied upon to make a bid for hankieland. Younger auteurs like Darren Aronofsky and David Fincher, like teenage boys torturing their sister’s dolls, disdain any talk of what British author Martin Amis once called “feeling tone.” Their films exist to tear Barbie limb from limb. This can look and feel awfully like callowness, even timidity: fear of emotion masquerading as aesthetic boldness.

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