2002
Rated: PG-13 for brief strong language, a sexual reference and thematic elements.
Genre: Drama
Directed By: John Sayles
Running Time: 2:21
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date:
DVD Features:
Audio Commentary - 1. John Sayles - Director
Trailers
Interactive Features:
Interactive Menus
Scene Selection
If you like this, try: Lovely & Amazing
SUNSHINE STATE

 

In a small Island on the coast of Florida, "Plantation Island" is a small town filled mostly with African American residents and tourists. Land Developers embark on the island and decide to sneak their way into the island and rebuild high rises, but not to the dismay of residents. Meanwhile, old resident Desiree Perry (Angela Bassett  What's love got to do with it, Strange Days) and sour resident Marly Temple (Edie Falco  The Sopranos) must watch and stand by as she struggles with her own identity and struggles with the relentless land developers.
    Sunshine state is a commentary on modern industrialization, modernization and progress, while characters within the civilization also change and progress within the times. The two main characters of the movie, whom were once very different people have changed with the times and by the end of the movie, change once again. The island is on the brink of transformation at the hands of the land developers for the better or the worse. In this, nearly every bit of scenery is full of some type of machinery left there by developers and construction workers symbolizing the main message of the movie. At the beginning, we have three men, one very old, one middle aged, and another a young man talking about the times and olden days while they preach about the uselessness of nature. These characters are the exemplary symbol of the movie representing both viewpoints of the movie as the characters and setting. Three generations talking about progression and business while the youngest man stares on asking along. Their ground in which they talk: a golf course; one man calling it "Nature on a leash."
    The characters themselves are the products of their environment and seek change but still cannot find the heart to, though it is for the better. Marly Temple is a young jaded woman who works at a restaurant that she hates, but still goes to for years simply on habit. She is accustomed to her old ways of living but wants a better life for herself. She's lonely and seeks the partnership of man and is on the path of self - destruction. Desiree Perry is an old resident of the island and a rather legendry one but ran away years ago because she became impregnated and was afraid of being shunned by her parents. She returns and seeks to reconcile with her mother and friends. She's a complex character because she wanted to be an actor but has come to grips with the fact that it never worked out for her and seeks to go back to her roots and find where it all went wrong. Marly gets into a romantic entanglement with developer Jack Meadows (Timothy Hutton) and shows him the beauty of the island even though she's not too crazy about it herself.
    By the end of the movie, both characters rid themselves of their old habits and evolve into different people, shedding their nature and old habits as does the developers attempt to do with the nature of the island. Each of the characters are original, complex, and very interesting in their conflicted living conditions. Marly's father is an old man who constantly preaches about the old times, stuck in the past and his old ways while his wife, a basically smart and cultured woman bears with him. My favorite scene in the movie is when the developers are offering Marly a price for her restaurant and her mother completely take him for a loop as she brings to mind a clause that allows them not only to receive the money but royalties for their place which surprises the man that intends on ripping them off. The entire movie leads up to an ultimately poetic climax that sums up the entire movie, an ending that is so ironic and philosophical, it left me breathless and mind - boggled. This ending alone completely altered my view of this movie.

Unfortunately for me, I spent most of the movie groaning and sitting in near - unconsciousness from boredom. I get the message of the movie, but it goes about it all wrong through constant and senseless meanderings with each of these characters. The movie moves at about the pace of a snail, taking its time through two and half hours of story. The movie is dull, and I think anyone who is not intent on reviewing this might give up after an hour of viewing. Sayles is a great director but fails to bring any true vision to this movie, and its a shame considering the cast that lies in the billing. I found Bassett's segments to drag this movie down and I didn't care much for  her past story or her spotted history with the football player character. All that I truly cared for were the characters around her including her mother and her pyromaniac troubled cousin.

Ultimately, it's a rather interesting movie but fails to bring anything really entertaining or engrossing to the table, but it's helped by an ending that is so poetic and ironic, it left me searching for words.

Error: When the bulldozer is about to tear down the trees, there are tracks in the dirt from previous takes.