Film Review: SUNLIGHT JR

Directed and Written by Laurie Collyer
Staring Naomi Watts, Matt Dillon, Norman Reedus, Tess Harper

Setting her film in sunny Florida only serves to emphasize the dark situation of Melissa and Richie in Collyer’s fine film, SUNLIGHT JR. Melissa works in a convenience store (SUNLIGHT JR) and Richie, a paraplegic due to a motorcycle accident many years earlier, does almost nothing. They live in a dark motel room and scenes with Mel’s ex (a terrifically terrifying Norman Reedus) show that things have never been very good for her. Her mother (Harper) raises a houseful of foster children without much care or skill. Here lives the future Melissas and Richies.

What makes the film succeed is that the portrait of their life is so nuanced. Yes, they have it hard, but they almost never make a good decision. This is about as good a portrait as I have seen of the new poor: the people in NICKED AND DIMED. The performances are flawless here. Neither actor plays for our sympathy and yet a situation that develops can’t help but break our hearts.

If I had a bone to pick with this film, it would be that Watts seems too smart for her role. Surely by the age of forty-something, she would have worked her way into a better situation. But that’s a small quibble with a very good film. Highly recommended if you don’t go to movies to be entertained.

Patti Abbott