Sunlight Jr (2013)

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Released 1-Apr-2014

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2013
Running Time 91:00
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Laurie Collyer

Madman Entertainment
Starring Naomi Watts
Matt Dillon
Norman Reedus
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music J Mascis

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     American writer/director Laurie Collyer knows how to make films about women in crisis. Her feature film Sherrybaby featured a powerful performance from Maggie Gyllenhaal as a woman struggling with her demons. Her latest film Sunlight Jr features Naomi Watts as a woman up against it. It is at times a powerful film about the difficulty of maintaining hope amongst unending financial problems.

     Watts plays Melissa, a cashier at a gas station at a Florida 24-hour petrol station/convenience store - the Sunlight Jr of the title. She works with her difficult and often sleazy boss and her only ray of hope at work is the possibility of entrance into the company education program. This is not the Florida of Miami Vice and CSI, it is a world of freeways, strip malls and welfare cheques.

     Her home life isn't easy. She lives in a tiny motel room/apartment with her disabled husband Richie (Matt Dillon). Richie, confined to a wheelchair, likes to drink and while Melissa is working he is often to be found hanging out with the down-and-outers. Richie could do some training and maybe could get a job but he is given up hope of being gainfully employed. As if Melissa's life couldn't get more difficult her crazy ex (Norman Reedus Darryl from Walking Dead) has started to show up at work and harass her. In his strange way of doing things - think hillbilly Darryl without the humanity - he loves her and wants her back. When Melissa finds that she is pregnant it opens up a whole new set of dreams about a possible future for herself and Richie. Of course, with her baggage it also creates a whole set of problems.

     It would have been some challenge for the make-up person on this film to turn one of the most beautiful actresses on the planet into a burnt out gas station attendant. Although I had some misgivings at the start that Watts would be able to pull off her down and out character her sheer skill as an actress won me over creating a window into the soul of this troubled character. I wasn't so convinced with Matt Dillon although some of the blame must fall with Collyer's script which sounds better coming from her female characters. From the males it comes over a little clichéd.

     This is, from beginning to end, a piece of independent cinema leaving aside the mainstream stars. It is also fairly downbeat throughout. It lacks subplots making the 91 minutes seem reasonably long and intense. Fans of Naomi Watts will enjoy this change of character for her but those, like myself, keen to see Norman Reedus in a different role might be a little bit disappointed that he is so close to hillbilly Darryl. It would be good to see him play a stockbroker next!

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Transfer Quality


     Sunlight Jr comes to DVD in a 2.35:1 transfer consistent with its original aspect ratio. It is 16×9 enhanced.

     The film was shot on high-definition digital video. It is not intended to be a visual showpiece hence the colours are little drab.

     It is reasonably sharp and the flesh tones are accurate. The camera lingers a lot of faces and bodies giving the film a raw physicality.

    There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     Sunlight Jr has an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack running at 448Kb/s.

     The film is mostly driven through the centre channels. The dialogue is clear and easy to understand.

     There is not a great deal of work for the sub-woofer and surrounds to do other than give some sense of space.

     Music is by J Mascis, a grungy legend formerly of Dinosaur Jr. His soundtrack is mainly driven by raw but melancholic solo electric guitar work.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are no extras.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    I can't find any details regarding extras on the Region 1 version. Buy this one.


     The tagline for Sunlight Jr is "where there is sunlight, there is hope" although it must be said that there isn't a great deal of hope in this film. Naomi Watts as Melissa struggles throughout to get some semblance of a normal life. The DVD looks and sounds good.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Monday, May 12, 2014
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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