(2002) dir. John Sayles
John Sayles is doubtlessly a significant figure in American independent cinema and one who has some truly excellent work on his resume. Sayles is noted for his integrity and for strong “social consciousness” themes in his work, often leaning sympathetically toward the working class. And, shamefully, like many significant filmmakers, I have seen only smatterings of his work and not necessarily his most important, interesting films.
My guess is that having seen Sunshine State won’t change the latter fact for me in and of itself. The film is a decent piece, with intelligent dialogue and a well-meaning anti-development slant, but it wasn’t particularly engaging or exciting.
The film bears some “theatrical” qualities. With opening, central, and closing sections focusing on some wealthy golfers whose contrived conversation opens up some of the issues of discourse, a lot of the film’s dialogue felt much more expository, like Theater more than Cinema. Other points in the film, characters get on monologues that have a similar theatrical flavor, I would say. Is this a common Sayles style? I am not familiar enough with his work to say.
The film is also somewhat Altman-esque, interweaving multiple characters and storylines, some of which connect up and others that seem to exist independently. It’s an “ensemble”-style picture, one that has several focal points and tries to ultimately paint a broader image (in this case, of the Florida community in which the story is located).
I enjoyed it pretty much, but I don’t have a lot more to say about it.