Sunshine State (****)
review by Joe Swanberg of FilmBrats

Since it is so hard to write about films I really loved, I will keep this one short and sweet.

In my humble opinion, John Sayles has written the best screenplay of the year, and one of the best ever.

Sunshine State, on the surface, and in the previews, is about a small island off the coast of Florida which is being prospected by developers to be turned into some kind of money generating tourist spot with strip malls and fancy new homes. This does not even begin to explain the complexity and scope of the film.

Sunshine State is about America. It is about the changing climate we live in. It is about being black. It is about being white. It is about getting old. It is about dying. It is about hope, and greed, and love, and redemption, and respect. It is about watching the world you grew up in, slowly melt away.

There is no preaching in Sunshine State. No moral message about consumerism being bad, and the environment being good. It is simply about life, and the fact that everything changes. Don't hold onto the past too tightly, because it's bound to be gone eventually, and so will you. Get out there and enjoy life. Make the best of it.

The film has great acting, especially by Ralph Waite. There is not a weak member of the cast. Everyone holds their own, and speaks their lines, and gets their emotions across, but behind it all is John Sayles. He gives us rich characters, and wonderful stories, and plenty to think about. John Sayles is my favorite American filmmaker, and he has produced a film that is truly about America. The film is about America in 2002, but it is also about America throughout our history, and I feel fairly certain that the film will continue to ring true for as long as our country lasts, because people will continue to be born and continue to die, and things will continue to change.

Please go see this film, and support a truly independent filmmaker who is completely in touch with the America we are living in, and who has produced an exceptional film that you owe it to yourself to see.