Sunshine State (2002) - Rotten Tomatoes

Sunshine State (2002)



Critic Consensus: Wonderfully acted, but the story and pacing can use a little work.

Movie Info

Writer and director John Sayles returns with another multi-layered look at an American community, subtly exploring how race, class, economics, and both national and regional history come together to shape people's lives. Plantation Island is a community on the coast of Florida; the island was once a notorious hotbed of segregationists, with most of the African-American population centered in the neighborhood of Lincoln Beach, while Delrona Beach is primarily home to white residents. Marly Temple (Edie Falco) is the sixth generation of her family to live in Delrona Beach, where she helps run a motel and cafe owned by her elderly and ill-tempered father (Ralph Waite) and drama instructor mother (Jane Alexander). Marly's former husband, Steve (Richard Edson), is a scruffy ne'er do well who's a sucker for get-rich-quick scams, while her current boyfriend, Scotty (Marc Blucas), is struggling to make something of himself as a golf pro. Meanwhile, Desiree Perry (Angela Bassett) is an actress who is returning to Lincoln Beach for the first time since she was a teenager, hoping to introduce her new husband, Reggie (James McDaniel), to her mother, Eunice Stokes (Mary Alice). Desiree was the center of a minor local scandal when she became pregnant as a teenager and moved away. Eunice has never quite forgiven her, while Flash (Tom Wright), Desiree's high school boyfriend and the man responsible, hasn't seen her since. Eunice is looking after Terrell (Alex Lewis), a troubled youth recently found guilty of arson, and Desiree and Reggie soon find themselves bonding with the misguided youth. In time, Delrona Beach and Lincoln Beach are brought together by a common concern; Greg (Perry Lang) and Lester (Miguel Ferrer) are representatives from a nearby resort community looking to expand, with Plantation Island looking like their most likely target. As homeowners debate whether to sell or stay put, local government officials and the town's business community argue the merits and faults of the resort's expansion into Plantation Island. Meanwhile, Marly becomes romantically involved with Jack (Timothy Hutton), a landscape architect affiliated with the developers who seems to believe his work is doing more harm than good. Sunshine State also features Mary Steenburgen, Alan King, and Bill Cobbs.more
Rating: PG-13 (for brief strong language, a sexual reference and thematic elements)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: John Sayles
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 19, 2002
Box Office: $2.8M
Sony Pictures Classics - Official Site


Edie Falco
as Marly Temple
Angela Bassett
as Desiree Perry
Timothy Hutton
as Jack Meadows
Jane Alexander
as Delia Temple
Mary Alice
as Eunice Stokes
James McDaniel
as Reggie Perry
Mary Steenburgen
as Francine Pinkney
Bill Cobbs
as Dr. Lloyd
Ralph Waite
as Furman Temple
Alex Lewis
as Terrell
Alan King
as Murray Silver
Tom Wright
as Flash Phillips
Cullen Douglas
as Jefferson Cash
Clifton James
as Buster Bidwell
Gordon Clapp
as Earl Pinkney
Richard Edson
as Steve Tregaskis
Sam McMurray
as Todd Northrup
Michael Greyeyes
as Billy Trucks
Marc Blucas
as Scotty Duval
Eliot Asinof
as Silent Sam
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Sunshine State

Critic Reviews for Sunshine State

All Critics (121) | Top Critics (35)

Sunshine State resembles Sayles' sketchbook more than his finished work, and we might hope that something more polished might spring from it.

Full Review… | August 9, 2002
Toronto Star
Top Critic

Sunshine State is an efficient helping of Sayles, insightful even when it's not richly entertaining or imbued with apparent passion.

August 9, 2002
Denver Rocky Mountain News
Top Critic

Sunshine State has the structure, the theme, the style and, at 141 minutes, the length of a great John Sayles film. What it doesn't have, alas, is the merit.

Full Review… | August 9, 2002
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

All this is admirable. I just wish Sayles would also put a little movie into the movie.

Full Review… | July 21, 2015
The Nation

This well acted ensemble melodrama is not one of John Sayles' strongest films.

Full Review… | July 22, 2011

Sayles' writing is so good, and so convincing, he makes the experience more like reading a complex and well-researched novel than watching a movie.

Full Review… | December 6, 2004
Looking Closer

Audience Reviews for Sunshine State

A long movie - about two families in a Florida neighbourhood. The story includes a little of everything - family, greed, bias, expectations, suicide, fidelity, unplanned pregnancy, etc. etc. I enjoyed it - almost have to watch it again to recall all the stories.

Red Lats

Super Reviewer

Edie Falco leads an impressive cast and John Sayles always gives you something to think about after the movie is over.

Tim Sigur

Super Reviewer

John Sayles' component film is a disappointment only because we expect so much more from him. A good film on the pressures of community and the price that individuals are willing to pay to "sell out". Nonethless, we expect more.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

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