Sunshine State Review

Delrona beach - a small island off the west coast of Florida - largely untouched by modernisation but now a likely money maker for real-estate investors. Dr. Lloyd (Bill Cobbs) is worried the native black enclave is going to be swallowed up by the condominium developments but big money seems to talk louder than his wise words. Still he's trying his best to rouse a protest out of a population who feels all has already been decided without them.

Meanwhile, Desiree (Angela Bassett) has returned home after disappearing under a cloud 25 years beforehand. Her relationship with her mother, Eunice (Mary Alice), is still tense but she's felt obliged to bring her husband, Reggie (James McDaniel) to meet her. Eunice has also taken in her troubled nephew, Terrell (Alex Lewis), who's due to appear in court regarding an arson attack.

On the other side of town, the neurotic Francine (Mary Steenburgen) is working hard for the local chamber of commerce to attract more tourists to the area with the invention of "Bucanneer day" now in its second year. Marly on the other hand (Edie Falco) is wishing she could get rid of the family motel she inherited from her father (Ralph Waite) but to give it all up would break his heart...

There's no denying that Sayles is amongst the most talented scriptwriters of his generation and Sunshine State proves once again why he's so highly regarded: the story manages to follow a dozen or so characters without losing the audience and remains true to itself, managing a perfect mix of soul-stirring scenes and sharp satire. At the same time, Sayles cleverly avoids oversimplification - there's no demonising the corporate suits nor is there any deification of the characters resisting them.

Sayles managed to assemble a fantastic array of talent for this film and, although few of them are household names, they work incredibly well as a cast, each one giving an excellent performance. As usual with Sayles, the location forms a distinct character which once again is beautifully shot - the cinematography as a whole is low key but highly effective making full use of close-ups of characters' faces as if trying to look even further into their minds.

There's no wonder that Sayles finds raising money for his films difficult in Hollywood - he's not likely to make many friends in corporate America with a film that makes you realise how nauseating the McWorld truly is with their sponsored nature trails and franchised eateries. Although not per se a film about globalisation, this film will probably strike a chord with the No Logo generation and demonstrates what independent cinema can really be at its best.



out of 10

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