Movies set in small sea-side towns?
January 5, 2011 6:18 AM   Subscribe

Looking for films with certain settings, aesthetics, but don't care about plot so much.

Lately I am watching movies more for cinematography and a sense of place than for plot or characters. Maybe this makes me a bad person but that's neither here nor there.

Examples of what I enjoyed recently: The Shipping News, Insomnia, Dolores Claiborne. I am a sucker for: sea-side towns, fishing villages, winter settings (especially if remote), beaches and coasts (New England, rocky, not Florida sandy).

Bonus points if it's available on Netflix streaming.
posted by r_nebblesworthII to Media & Arts (53 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
The Ice Storm
posted by caek at 6:20 AM on January 5, 2011

As it is in Heaven (not seaside but remote Swedish village) streaming on Netflix
Breaking the Waves
Shipping News (oops you mentioned that)
IN the Bedroom
posted by beccaj at 6:25 AM on January 5, 2011

Sometimes I wish I had a sock puppet account so I wouldn't reveal the knowledge I have about some things...

The Proposal largely is set in Alaska, but was filmed in Massachusetts on the Atlantic. Beautiful scenery, regardless of anything else.
posted by knile at 6:34 AM on January 5, 2011

Babette's Feast takes place in a remote Danish village by the sea.
posted by dywypi at 6:37 AM on January 5, 2011

Hey, I just watched the Proposal last week! No need to be ashamed of any film with Sandra Bullock in it.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 6:37 AM on January 5, 2011

Local Hero
posted by Brian B. at 6:39 AM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

Frozen River may fit the bill. Not seaside, but winter and remote.
posted by rtha at 6:40 AM on January 5, 2011

Margaret's Museum is set in my mother's hometown, a little mining village in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.
posted by LN at 6:41 AM on January 5, 2011

Terrence Malick is a director who is known for his "sense of place" more than anything. Check out The New World and you'll see what I mean.
posted by Think_Long at 6:43 AM on January 5, 2011

The Winter Guest is set in Scotland along the frozen coastline. It's a very beautiful film.
posted by lydhre at 6:46 AM on January 5, 2011

Ghost Writer (and previously).
posted by caek at 6:48 AM on January 5, 2011

Before Sunrise
Before Sunset

Avatar (seriously ... Avatar)
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:50 AM on January 5, 2011

The Sweet Hereafter is a wintry film, and it's really beautiful, I think.
The first seaside-town film that comes to mind for me is Breaking the Waves, also a very good film, imo.
Yeah, so I like my films a little dark.
posted by heyho at 6:53 AM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

La Grande Séduction
posted by dephlogisticated at 6:53 AM on January 5, 2011

Good lord, Ondine. Shot by Christopher Doyle (previously) it's a little fishy in terms of story, but it's just beautiful from start to finish. Don't know if it's got a strong "sense of place" but boy is it lovely.
posted by Joey Bagels at 6:59 AM on January 5, 2011

You might enjoy Snow Falling on Cedars, although it's set in the Pacific Northwest rather than New England.
posted by arianell at 7:00 AM on January 5, 2011

I have similar likes when it comes to settings in films. Here are a few examples of movies with rocky-beachy and/or northern/remote themes. Some of them are better than others, but I agree that plot isn't always the most important thing. I will be watching the responses to your question!
Smilla's Sense of Snow
The Sweet Hereafter
Message in a Bottle
Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner
New Waterford Girl
The Cider House Rules
posted by analog at 7:02 AM on January 5, 2011

Smilla's Sense of Snow
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Beautiful Girls (don't think it's seaside, however)
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:02 AM on January 5, 2011

John Sayles's Limbo is set in a small seaside Alaskan town and a remote island.
posted by otolith at 7:07 AM on January 5, 2011

One of my favourite films of all time, Breaking the Waves by Lars Von Trier. In addition to the remote fishing village, you also get a superb plot and acting so brilliant you don't notice it.
posted by Dragonness at 7:08 AM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

Secret of Roan Inish
posted by gregglind at 7:15 AM on January 5, 2011

Mystic Pizza
posted by indigo4963 at 7:23 AM on January 5, 2011

Heaven has an excellent sense of place. It's in Turin, Italy, so neither wintery nor coastal, but very cinematic and available on Netflix streaming.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:27 AM on January 5, 2011

Oldy but a goody for the wild cold beach feel - Storm Boy.
posted by Ahab at 7:28 AM on January 5, 2011

A Simple Plan
posted by TheOtherGuy at 7:33 AM on January 5, 2011

Bill Forsyth's Local Hero and John Sayles's Limbo fit your requirements and are both amazing.
posted by hot soup girl at 7:35 AM on January 5, 2011

Winter and/or Remote: Fargo, A Simple Plan, Limbo.
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:35 AM on January 5, 2011

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
posted by mmmbacon at 7:36 AM on January 5, 2011

well then, I guess I must type fast next time :)
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:36 AM on January 5, 2011

Wintery retro and well paced, check out the original of Let the right one in (Låt den rätte komma in).
posted by Iteki at 7:38 AM on January 5, 2011

Let The Right One In is fantastic on these metrics (well, there aren't any coasts, but wintry + cinematography).
posted by furiousthought at 7:39 AM on January 5, 2011

Thinking about this a little further, in general the Coen brothers and John Sayles tend to make movies with a strong sense of place. For desolate Texas, Coen's No Country For Old Men and Sayles' Lone Star are both excellent in this regard. Great cinematography, very very lonely landscapes.
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:39 AM on January 5, 2011

Que la bête meure (This Man Must Die) - Claude Chabrol mystery set on the wet, windy, rocky Normandy coast.

L'avventura - The first part of the film takes place on a rocky outcrop somewhere off the Italian coast. It's very much a film about mood and setting rather than plot (of which there is not much).

Summer with Monika & Through a Glass Darkly - The first one is about a young lovestruck couple who go island hopping around the Swedish coast. The second one is about... err, I'm still trying to work that out actually, but it fits your description quite well.
posted by afx237vi at 7:45 AM on January 5, 2011

Mystic River
posted by indigo4963 at 7:47 AM on January 5, 2011

This may or may not qualify, but since the one thing that really stayed with me about the movie (aside from Macauley Culkin's creepiness) was the Massachusetts seaside setting, I'm going to suggest it anyway: The Good Son.
posted by ashirys at 7:56 AM on January 5, 2011

Wow, I'd better stay unemployed if I'm going to watch all these.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 8:06 AM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also, I don't have the energy to mark all these best answer, so consider all of your answers "best answers".
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 8:08 AM on January 5, 2011

M. Hulot's Holiday, the Jacques Tati film, is much more about the ambient sense of place than any specific plot details - enough so that it's very difficult to say what HAPPENS in it, other than just the kind of stuff that seems to happen occasionally.

Also, it's set in a seaside resort town.

It's a comedy, kind of, so not really along the tonal lines of your request. Nonetheless - you should check it out. It's amazing.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 8:12 AM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

That should be All the Real Girls.
posted by Chenko at 8:33 AM on January 5, 2011

Seconding Winter's Bone!
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:29 AM on January 5, 2011

Winter settings? You want Dr. Zhivago.
posted by TrialByMedia at 10:57 AM on January 5, 2011

If you're looking for a television show with a setting that feels this way to me, try Kingdom starring the ever-wonderful Stephen Fry. It's set in a fictional town called Market Shipborough.
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:05 AM on January 5, 2011

You've delved into the Powell and Pressburger oeuvre, right?

I Know Where I'm Going! is probably going to be your best bet (set in the Inner Hebrides in Scotland), but you might also enjoy A Canterbury Tale and A Matter Of Life And Death, both of which take place in small English towns during/just after WW2.
posted by Sara C. at 11:07 AM on January 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

If you have room for animation in your aesthetics, try Ponyo (Japanese shipping town), or The Last Unicorn (castle over a craggy sea)
posted by Mchelly at 11:18 AM on January 5, 2011

I came in to suggest M. Hulot's Holiday, but Pickmans NTM beat me to it, so I'll just say: enjoy!
posted by trip and a half at 12:25 PM on January 5, 2011

Remote winter setting?? Try 17th-century New France. Black Robe might be the coldest movie I've ever seen.

Also, Fargo.
posted by fso at 12:41 PM on January 5, 2011

All on Netflix:
Doc Martin (Series; not wintery but lots of gorgeous coast/fishing-village shots)
Turn of the Tide (vintage, B&W)
Man of Aran (ditto)
Island at War
Movies set or filmed in Scotland
posted by dpcoffin at 2:53 PM on January 5, 2011

Tough Guys Don't Dance
posted by Joe Beese at 4:07 PM on January 5, 2011

The Widow of St.Pierre, set in an isolated French colony in northern Canada (except this colony is still a part of France). With Juliette Binoche.
posted by DMelanogaster at 5:29 PM on January 5, 2011

Jean de Florette (and the sequel, Manon de Sources)
In the Bedroom
Do The Right Thing
A River Runs Through It
L.A. Confidential
In Bruges
Lost in Translation
Winter's Bone
There Will Be Blood

Also: The Wire
posted by soonertbone at 8:28 PM on January 5, 2011

Ooh, and two great San Francisco movies: Vertigo and Zodiac.
posted by soonertbone at 9:19 PM on January 5, 2011

Incidentally, a director with a strangely good sense of place is Brian De Palma. I'm not sure how he does it, but Brian De Palma is very, very good at filming on-location and making it work. The Philadelphia of Blow Out, the San Francisco of Raising Cain, the New York of Dressed to Kill and Carlito's Way, and the Paris of Femme Fatale are all vividly realized places - they're not simply interchangeable, arbitrary backgrounds.

I don't remember any of his films as having taken place in a snowy, coastal town, though.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:47 AM on January 6, 2011

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