Directed by John Sayles.
Written by John Sayles.
Starring Angela Bassett and Edie Falco.
Release Year: 2002
Review Date: 7/1/02
“What the hell is this?” That’s probably
what you are wondering unless you follow the news of the independent
film circuit. Well, writer/director/editor John Sayles (whose most
famous work of the last ten years is “Lone Star”) did a little film
that features a ridiculous number of minor, recognizable actors in a
chatty story about the state of Florida called “Sunshine State.”
Angela Bassett and Edie Falco (“The
Sopranos”) star in this drama about two women that separately
navigate their mid-thirties while dealing with property closures,
racial issues and family strife. Bassett plays Desiree Perry, a
Boston infomercial actress that comes home to Lincoln Beach, FL to
see her mother (Mary Alice), whom she hasn’t seen in many years.
Mom is also harboring a troubled teen named Terrell (Alex Lewis) and
Desiree tries to help reform the kid before he gets into more
trouble with the law. The parallel storyline in “Sunshine State”
deals with a divorced “motelier” named Marly (Falco) that runs an
old motel and restaurant in Deltona Beach. Marly’s big problem is
that her property is being hounded by contractors bent on turning
her motel into a strip mall...which wouldn’t be so bad, if the
motel’s owner—her old man (Ralph Waite)—wasn’t such a stubborn,
racist bastard who wants to retain the property at all costs.
Much like “Lone Star”, “Sunshine State”
mostly ambles along at an incredibly slow pace, but with so many
characters, “Sunshine State” feels too long because it is an
astonishing 127 minutes in duration. Simply too long for a film
that just follows characters around as they play out their lives, I
found myself looking at the time periodically as I wondered when it
would all be over. The film has many minor laughs and with so many
actors to keep up with—including bit parts with Timothy Hutton, Bill
Cobbs, Mary Steenburgen and Miguel Ferrer—Sayles keeps things
reasonably interesting just by going the Robert Altman/Woody Allen
route of star saturation. But, in scenes featuring Steenburgen and
a suicidal businessman played by Gordon Clapp (from “NYPD Blue”),
one wonders if Sayles even needed these scenes in the final cut of
the film; all of these scenes are secondary and don’t deserve the
attention of the audience concentrating on the work of the two lead
And, once again, Bassett really carries the
ball well. Her Desiree goes through so much drama in the course of
“Sunshine State” and Bassett handles all of the work nicely,
especially her work with an ex from high school named Flash (Tom
Wright). Falco is very good also, but her role is much more
one-note than Bassett because Falco’s character is basically a comic
foil for the activities taking place around her; as such, she has
most of the movie’s funny lines and she delivers them in a Southern
accent so thick you would think she’s really from the backwoods of
But overall, this film just felt average.
Rent “Lone Star” for a more compelling work by one of Hollywood’s
more respected directors.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard