Sunshine State (2002)

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Released 27-May-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Dolby Digital Trailer-City
Audio Commentary-John Sayles (Director)
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 134:58
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (59:58)
Dual Sided
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By John Sayles

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Angela Bassett
Edie Falco
Timothy Hutton
James McDaniel
Jane Alexander
Bill Cobbs
Ralph Waite
Mary Alice
Miguel Ferrer
Gordon Clapp
Mary Steenburgen
Alex Lewis
Alan King
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $39.95 Music Mason Daring

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.0 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.0 (448Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.0 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
French Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     John Sayles wrote, directed and edited Sunshine State, and in so doing, has unwittingly contributed a seminary lesson to budding film makers. There is a very big danger of becoming self-indulgent with your own work if you don't have another person's input to help make the difficult creative choices. I have enjoyed Sayles' work in the past, particularly the beautifully eloquent Secret of Roan Inish, but here, he seems to lose his way a little.

     The story revolves around several Florida characters whose lives are being changed by the imminent real estate creep. They include a prodigal daughter made good (played exceptionally well by Angela Bassett); a loyal but frustrated motel owner (a very good performance by Edie Falco); and a disenchanted civic promoter (a somewhat underdone performance by Mary Steenburgen). All of these characters must face their own uncertain futures with whatever resources they can muster, and the film attempts to examine their lives as they confront these changes.

     There are some very good performances in Sunshine State. Timothy Hutton and Jane Alexander are exceptionally good, but overall, Sayles has too many storyline balls in the air, and the result is a little bit of a jumble with not enough time for us to explore the characters sufficiently to make them sympathetic to us, and yet, in concert, the telling of each story makes the film rather long and arduous.

     The editing seems to be the culprit here, and this is why I feel that this production borders on the self-indulgent. By the end of the film, one gets the feeling that Sayles just couldn't decide what to leave in and what to take out, and ultimately decided just to put the lot in. A more disinterested editor may have been much more judicious about what made the final cut, and this would have gone some way towards giving the piece more cohesion than it actually has. In the commentary, Sayles refers to the use of some characters as "Olympian Gods", and this looks like a film that's trying to be a classical epic. But without the restraint of more ruthless editing, the result is meandering and frequently pointless, which is a shame, because I believe there's a good film in here trying to get out.

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Transfer Quality


     The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

     The luminance of the disc was rather varied, sometimes excellent, and at other times, subdued to the point of murkiness. There was evidence of low level noise throughout, and contrast was substandard in some instances. Grain levels at times were distracting, but were mostly good.

     Colours were generally natural and good, although sometimes the skin tones appeared a little ruddy. There were some instances of halation (26:30 and 36:03), and occasionally, skin tones appeared posterized (19:56).

     There were occasional instances of wobble that were a little disconcerting, and macro-blocking made pans unstable and detail in mid and long shots soft. Colours occasionally blocked up quite noticeably (61:03), and there were film to video artefacts present throughout. There were also occasional bouts of aliasing (21:52, 25:36, 33:00, 82:15).

     Subtitles were clean and mostly accurate, though on occasions they were a little abbreviated.

     This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed between Chapters 13 and 14 at 59:58. It presented no major distraction to the viewer.

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


     There are five audio tracks on this DVD. The default is an English Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtrack. There is also an English Audio Commentary track, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtracks, and Dolby Digital Surround track in Italian.

     The dialogue was generally clear and understandable, though it occasionally sounded a little tinny and shrill. Audio sync presented no problems.

     The musical score by Mason Daring was overall a fairly pedestrian affair - although there were occasional uses of interesting sound effects to lift and heighten the piece.

     The surround channels were active, but not very, providing only minimal additional sound to flesh out the soundscape. Subwoofer use was extremely sparing.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



     The menu design is 16x9 enhanced, static and silent.

Theatrical Trailer - Sunshine State

     This is presented in a format of 1.33:1 and runs for 2:04. Not really very representative of the film.

Theatrical Trailer - Limbo

     This is presented in a format of 1.33:1 and runs for 2:30. I have not seen this film, so cannot comment on the accuracy of its representation.

Director's Commentary - John Sayles (Director)

     A little dry and dull, with plenty of technical information and location details. This commentary helps you to see Sayles' intent for this film, but if it takes a commentary to explain that, then perhaps it would be fair to say that he was not entirely successful in his actual objective.

R4 vs R1

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

     Both versions appear to be identical, so proximity is the only real decider. For an Australian market, R4 is the winner on this point alone.


     I wanted to like this film, and I nearly did. It just didn't finally "click" for me, and I came away from it feeling that it was over long and under done. The acting was generally very good and there were some touching and engaging moments, but there was too much going on that seemed pointless or dramatically weak. The cover describes this film as a "comedy" and I think this does it a great disservice. It is really a drama with ironic, comedic elements, and this misnomer sets up an unreasonable expectation in the viewer which is not satisfied.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Mirella Roche-Parker (read my bio)
Saturday, December 20, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDSinger SGD-001, using S-Video output
DisplayTeac 76cm Widescreen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTeac 5.1 integrated system
SpeakersTeac 5.1 integrated system

Other Reviews NONE
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