From acclaimed writer/director John Sayles (Lone Star, Passion Fish) comes an unforgettable portrait of a richly diverse Florida town threatened by real estate developers. Edie Falco, Angela Bassett and Timothy Hutton lead... more » a remarkable ensemble cast. A tidal wave of change is coming to Delrona Beach, Florida. Out-of-state developers have descended upon the sleepy coastal community with the promise of big bucks and bigger changes. Torn between honoring family obligations and the lure of quick cash, the locals greet the outsiders with a wildly mixed reception. Marly (Falco, TV's "The Sopranos") is eager to sell the family business and start her life over. As caretaker to her father's motel and restaurant, she's grown resentful of missed opportunities, but finds a glimmer of hope in a tentative romance with a visiting landscape architect (Oscar winner Timothy Hutton). Desiree (Oscar nominee Angela Bassett) left two years ago to escape scandal and make a name for herself as an actress. Reluctantly returning home, she finds her strong-willed mother (Mary Alice) unwilling to let go of the past.« less
"Author/screenwriter/director/editor--John Sayles is unique in the film industry. After a slew of odd jobs, he became a novelist, then a screenwriter and, ultimately, the winner of a MacArthur "genius" grant to finance his own films. His Return of the Secaucus Seven was the beginning of a series of highly individual films that include Brother From Another Planet, the wonderful Eight Men Out, Lone Star and now this bittersweet film about Florida. The cast--particularly Edie Falco and Angela Bassett, who both give shining performances--is wonderful, with a winning turn by Ralph Waite (remember The Waltons?) as Falco's blind father.This is a film about history, about pride, about mother-daughter turmoil, about land development (and greedy, conniving developers) about the human condition. It is funny and touching, irreverent and fundamentally true; it is also well-conceived and sometimes hilarious. Mary Steenburgen (with one of those amazing facelifts that leaves her expressionless) nevertheless is great as what amounts to a middle-aged cheerleader, trying to pump civic pride into a place that has precious little of it. There are a number of small, golden moments: a scene between Waite and young Alex Lewis as Terrell is understated and lovely.A fine, fine film with a splendid cast, and some messages that are delivered without a single heavy-handed moment.Don't miss this one!"
Sayles produces another winner
Dale Rhines | Alexandria, VA United States | 11/24/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"John Sayles, who wrote, directed, and edited Sunshine State, is one of the finest directors working today. He is able to take seemingly unrelated stories and create a wonderful film. His work, including Limbo, Eight Men Out, Lone Star, and Matewan are all movies that make you think. I would have liked more extras on this DVD, but Sayles commentary is interesting and does provide some insight into the movie making process. The movie, about developers moving into a little town in Florida and the effect on the town, looks at class and race differences and provides a different look at Florida, much like Limbo did for Alaska. The cast is really good, led by Edie Falco, who provides a Oscar worthy performance as a "motelier" who wants more out of life but doesn't seem to want it enough to leave, and by Angela Bassett, who did leave and maybe is wondering what she got of life by leaving. Bill Cobbs and TYimothy Hutton also provide solid performances in this movie. As I indictaed, the lack of extras is disappointing, but the movie itself is a gem. John Sayles, whose body of work stands with any director working today, has produced another film that will leave you thinking about it long after you view it."
All You Ever Wanted to Know About Florida...
Linda McDonnell | Brooklyn, U.S.A | 08/10/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"...or so it seems. "Sunshine State" concerns itself with the natives of two Florida beach communities, one white and the other black, who find themselves being wooed by luxury condo developers. Some are for it, and some are less so. While all the haggling is going on, we get to see the minidramas in various people's lives.For instance, on the white beach, there's a young woman bored out of her mind by running her blind father's motel ( a different take on the Norman Bates charatcter if you will). Dad is a curmudgeonly old guy, while mom Jane Alexander is the local drama teacher queen who prefers to forget that the motel is somehow connected to her family. Daughter is starting up a romance with Timothy Hutton, who is designing the landscaping for that new community. He's a decent enough fellow, apparantly.On the black beach, there's tension between an older woman and her daughter, who has just returned after an absence of many years, evidently to introduce mom to her new doctor husband. This daughter was once a drama student of Jane Alexander's, so there's a bit of overlap in the two communities. Daughter is none too happy to see that her old high school boyfriend has resurfaced, especially since he fathered the child she had to leave town to have.From time to time, we also see Alan King and his golfer friends who just comment on the need to bring nature under the control of man, "Nature is overrated", King says flatly at one point, while teeing off. Seems some of the other reviewers found "Sunshine State" overly long or soap opera-ish. I didn't find it either thing. I thought the story lines were all interesting enough, and that it was just long enough. Perhaps it's not the best movie I've seen this year, but I'm not sorry I saw it or anything."
More than It Seems
BeachReader | Delaware | 01/28/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is so much more than a movie about real-estate developers moving into a sleepy coastal community in Florida, despite how it appears at the beginning. It is about the lives and dreams of those who live there; about those who have left and returned; and those who have never left, but want to. It is about dreams: dreams of individuals and dreams held by parents for their children. "Sunshine State" has a unique perspective.Sayles examines each of his characters with great affection, it seems. No one is all-good or all-bad.....there is a lot of "middle of the road" here, mostly decent people. He lovingly develops his characters slowly and thoughtfully, and never judges these folks, no matter what they decide to do or not do. The slow, but never boring, pace of this movie allows the viewer to get involved in the lives of its characters, all of whom are played to perfection by fairly high-profile actors (Angela Bassett, Edir Falco, Timothy Hutton, Mary Steenburgen, and Alan King, among others). The narrative is told in ovelapping stories with an intersection of most of its characters as conflicts unfold in the community.This movie left me with a lot to think about."
Great characters, good film
M. Weston | Silicon Valley, CA | 07/05/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film has more real, three dimensional characters than two or three normal films, played by actors who are familiar and very good, but not stars. The main characters are probably Marly Temple (Edie Falco from "The Sopranos") and Desiree Perry (Angela Bassett from "How Stella Got Her Groove Back"). Marly runs the family business, a motel and coffee shop next to the Florida coast in the small town where this film takes place, but prefers to delegate as much of the actual operation as possible. Her father (Ralph Waite from "The Waltons"), who started the business, is mostly blind, and her mother (Jane Alexander from "Testament") teaches drama.Meanwhile Desiree has returned home for a visit with her new anesthesiologist husband (James McDaniel from "NYPD Blue") after leaving town suddenly as a teenager, although about 18 years ago she did come back for one day for her father's funeral. She was interested in acting long ago, but has only found success making infomercials. Her mother (Mary Alice) still lives in town and is raising a teenage boy, who we see in the opening shot setting fire to what appears to be a sailing ship.The town is in the midst of Buccaneer Days, a small town event organized by Francine Pickney (Mary Steenburgen), with some help from her depressed husband (Gordon Clapp from "NYPD Blue").The outside influence is provided by some developers, who are in town to break ground on a project and to attempt to buy up some additional property by whatever means possible. The main character among them is Jack Meadows (Timothy Hutton from "Ordinary People"), who gets to know Marly. The opposition to the developers is primarily organized by Dr. Lloyd (Bill Cobbs).All of the above characters and more who I haven't even mentioned are very good and interesting, as are the performances by the actors playing them and the dialog they are given to speak. The only false note I can recall was by the chairperson of the city council, who only appeared in one scene.The film was written, directed, and edited by John Sayles, whose previous work I have been negligent about seeing, except for "Lone Star." I absolutely loved this film until maybe three quarters of the way through, when it seemed to start to drag a bit. I started to wonder if it was ever going to go anywhere, and while it did reveal a few mysteries, it really didn't, at least for me. That said, the film is still so much better than almost anything else you could see.Seen on 6/28/2002."