Sunshine State


Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 32
  2. Negative: 0 out of 32

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Critic Reviews

  1. Creates a cinematic mosaic of American lives unprecedented in its range, balance, subtlety and even-handedness.
  2. The scenes unfold with such unhurried delicacy, and the characters are so intriguing, you can ignore the editorial bluntness and savor the smaller, sweeter details.
  3. 89
    The dialogue is scattered with so many beautiful gems that conversations glitter.
  4. Few white directors depict racial interaction in a thoughtful, non-exploitative way, but Sayles has always been one of them.
  5. 88
    Sayles' film moves among a large population of characters with grace, humor and a forgiving irony.
  6. Visually, even compared to Sayles' own best work, it's somewhat prosaic - and dramatically, it suffers from the fact that its two main characters are kept so far apart. But the screenwriting and the cast redeem this film.
  7. Although it's often uneven and rambling, its sum conveys an unusual richness and satisfaction. While most films these days are about nothing, this film seems to be about everything that's plaguing the human spirit in a relentlessly globalizing world.
  8. 80
    Part of the joy of watching a John Sayles film is to see how he knits together so many people and stories into a densely layered, always absorbing whole.
  9. New Times (L.A.)
    Reviewed by: Luke Y. Thompson
    Almost two and a half hours long, and mostly consists of calm conversations. But don't be deterred, or you'll miss out on a study of character, class and changing times that puts Robert Altman's stodgy "Gosford Park" to shame.
  10. 80
    You can feel the heat that ignites this gripping tale, and the humor and humanity that root it in feeling. Sayles knows how to use his social conscience: He lets it rip.
  11. Far more interesting and intelligent than anything coming out of the studios. It fairly brims with superb performances by a terrific cast - you simply can't take your eyes off the female leads, Edie Falco and Angela Bassett.
  12. 75
    What Sunshine State lacks in momentum, it makes up for with a Dickensian sprawl of characters -- 50 in all -- who possess the depth and humanity that has become a Sayles trademark.
  13. Rings true for the most part, and explores human nature - leashed and unleashed - in ways that resonate.
  14. If Sayles had maneuvered these stories and performances into even a shade more sentimentality or gravitas, the weight would have collapsed them like a house of cards. As it is, they breathe easily, delicately into each other.
  15. Sayles' films are always of interest, and even though the partly cloudy Sunshine State is not the writer-director at his best, even his letdowns often have more to offer than other people's successes.
  16. 70
    The whole of Sunshine State is less than the sum of its parts, but the parts are often lovely, and always true.
  17. 70
    Unlike in similar past efforts, Sayles never finds a way to bring it all together. Individual moments of considerable impact alternate with stretches that go nowhere.
  18. New York Magazine (Vulture)
    Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    The usual Sayles mix of torpor and talent prevails here.
  19. Like "Lone Star," this group portrait mourns a rapidly vanishing American landscape while acknowledging that the past, free of corporate homogeneity though it may have been, is never the unspoiled paradise it appears in retrospect.
  20. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Sayles is clearly aiming to construct a multilevel character study and sociological portrait, but too often the film lapses into a lecture.
  21. These are valid ideas, but they don't always arise organically out of the script, and can seem clumsily expressed.
  22. New York Daily News
    Reviewed by: Jack Mathews
    Though his latest, Sunshine State, shows Sayles usual literary care, it's a very slight work compared with such cinematic tomes as "Lone Star," "Matewan" and "Eight Men Out."
  23. The New Yorker
    Reviewed by: David Denby
    Has some of the wittiest writing Sayles has ever done for the movies and some of the best acting he's ever coaxed out of his performers, and the picture is a pleasant, if unexciting, experience. [8 July 2002, p.84]
  24. Reviewed by: Robert Koehler
    Falco, light years from "The Sopranos," is exquisitely vulnerable and her scenes play well with Hutton, in his finest role in years as a good man who knows he's sold out.
  25. 60
    When Sayles has a compelling story line he's one of America's finest (Matewan, Lone Star), but when he doesn't he can be dull and unfocused. Filling out the latter category is this ensemble drama about piracy, both personal and economic, on an island off the coast of northern Florida.
  26. Like a blue plate special at a theme diner, Sunshine State comes with a lot of overdone side dishes thrown on the table at the same time.
  27. Baltimore Sun
    Reviewed by: Michael Sragow
    The only gold in Sunshine State comes from its three female stars.
  28. Boston Globe
    Reviewed by: Sam Allis
    There is almost no drama, nor any surprise, in this long effort.
  29. Despite his fascinating subject and an impressive cast -- Sayles lets his story drift in too many directions, as if he'd lost his Florida road map somewhere along the way during his travels.
  30. 50
    It's ambitious, sharply observed and spectacularly well-acted like so much of Sayles' canon. But it's also overstuffed and underdeveloped.
  31. An attempt at an epic. Sayles assembles a big cast and creates a mosaic of interweaving characters and story lines. But the stories are bland, the connections are incidental and the dramatic payoff is nonexistent.
  32. 40
    Sodden and glum, even in those moments where it's supposed to feel funny and light. It makes you feel trapped and flailing as the minutes tick by. If it encapsulates anything, it's the experience of drowning, not waving.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 13 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 12
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 12
  3. Negative: 4 out of 12
  1. PatC.
    Apr 16, 2007
    This is a movie of dialogue between characters of unrelenting attitude. All the literary devices are here, heavy on the soliloquoys and This is a movie of dialogue between characters of unrelenting attitude. All the literary devices are here, heavy on the soliloquoys and forced platitudes. It's more of an expose than a story with a plot. What emerges is an implicit rebuke of all those who labor to fill our minds with an endless stream of B.S. In the end, while not being satisfying, it is still interesting and definitely has its moments. Full Review »
  2. FrankO.
    Jan 15, 2006
    Anoterh John Sayles masterpiece. This was the 2nd time I watched this movie and enjoyed this again. It is a great character study of a local Anoterh John Sayles masterpiece. This was the 2nd time I watched this movie and enjoyed this again. It is a great character study of a local community facing over development by greedy developers...great ensemble cast. Full Review »