“Sunlight Jr.” a Dark Portrait of
By Skip Sheffield
The best thing I can say about “Sunlight Jr.” is that it makes me really glad I do not live in the Greater Tampa Bay area.
“Sunlight Jr.,” written and directed by Laurie Collyer (Sherrybaby”), paints Tampa/Clearwater at its worst; a barren land of strip malls, tawdry motels, trailer parks and trailer trash. It is playing locally at FAU’s Living Room Theaters.
Naomi Watts and Matt Dillon play a low-rent, low-educated couple, Melissa and Richie, who live in one of those tawdry motels near a strip mall that has the 24-hour convenience store of the title.
Melissa is a cashier at Sunlight Jr. Her boss is a sexist pig who cruelly orders her on the graveyard shift, making her hard life even more miserable.
Richie is an embittered paraplegic due to a construction accident. His only subsistence is a small disability check, doled out reluctantly by social workers who suspect he is just a lazy bum.
When Melissa announces she is pregnant, Richie only momentarily expresses alarm, and then claims he is happy. The two are obviously in love and really have the hots for each other, so why not get married?
Well, Melissa is being stalked by a creepy ex-boyfriend (Norman Reedus) who deals drugs and harasses her. If that weren’t bad enough, Melissa gets fired from her crappy job. If you think there is a silver lining to this story you would be wrong.
It is admirable that Laurie Collyer feels such empathy with the poor, downtrodden, disadvantaged and self-destructive members of society, but their sad tale of woe is not very interesting, let alone uplifting.