Sunshine State

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Movie Review by Dr Kuma

Starring: Edie Falco, Angela Bassett, Jane Alexander, Ralph Waite, James McDaniel

Director: John Sayles

I’d rather not spend too long on this review as I felt I’ve done my time watching it – not in the ‘sunshine state’. The film’s 141 minutes running time actually seemed more like 141 hours.

The story unfolds around the week long Buccaneer Festival, a new ‘tradition’ set in the sunshine state of Plantation Island, Florida, a place where local real estate is the prospectors new gold. A place ripe for reinvention, like many of the towns inhabitants we meet. The film takes on an Altmaneque trip through these different peoples lives and the changes that money brings, seen from different perspectives all at the same time, a kind of jigsaw puzzle of stories where the last piece connects the whole. The problem with this movie is that the final picture on the jigsaw is a disappointment and like nothing we hoped it would be – i.e. interesting!

The signs all looked good. The cast is fine bordering on excellent; Angela Bassett, Edie Falco, Timothy Hutton, Mary Steenburgen and the much underused to always-excellent Ralph Waite (the father in THE WALTONS TV series) but the whole thing just doesn’t get anywhere. If this was a bar not a movie, you’d leave rather than sit there for two hours plus listening to them.

The movie is summed up in one line when Timothy Hutton asks why the sponge industry stopped in the area. Falco replies, “I don’t know, perhaps they died of boredom”. Too true.

This film from the excellent John Sayles, the writer of such Corman classics as PIRANHA, BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS, ALLIGATOR and THE HOWLING and the cult favourite BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET, is surprisingly free of classics scenes although one or two of the lines are really excellent. My favourite happened to be the words – The End.

Dr Kuma’s verdict: Replace the word ‘sunshine’ with ‘catatonic’ and you might realise what you’re in for.

2 out of 6 stars