Sunshine State [2002]

Writer-director John Sayles weaves together the beauty, grime, and history of Florida in Sunshine State. The rumbling approach of real estate developers on a sleepy island sets the leisurely paced plot in motion. Sayles takes his time introducing his characters, gradually revealing how their lives intertwine, and, as always, teases magnificent performances out of his actors. Edie Falco is quietly brilliant as Marly, running an old-guard motel as progress marches on, and regarding the men in her life with a wry practicality. Mary Steenburgen gifts a small role with marvelous, spoiled humanity in a deft comic turn, and Angela Bassett slowly unfurls her character's depth with the elegance of a true pro. Sunshine State is a simple story, but never clich├ęd, possessing a glow worth basking in. --Ali Davis

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