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USA: Sony Pictures Classics
UK: Columbia Tristar Films (UK)
Cast: Edie Falco, Angela Bassett, Jane Alexander, Ralph Waite, James McDaniel, Timothy Hutton, Mary Alice, Bill Cobbs, Mary Steenburgen, Alex Lewis, Gordon Clapp, Richard Edson, Tom Wright, Perry Lang, Miguel Ferrer, Marc Blucas, Michael Greyeyes, Alan King, Charlayne Woodard, Ashley Brumby, Nancy Campbell, Patricia Clay, Cullen Douglas, Karen Garrett, Sam McMurray, Tim Powell, Laird Stuart
Director: John Sayles
USA: 141 mins
UK: 140 mins
USA Rated: PG-13 for brief strong language, a sexual reference and thematic elements
UK Certificate: 12 contains infrequent strong language
USA Release Date: 21 June 2001 (Limited Release - Los Angeles and New York)
UK Release Date: 26 July 2002
Unfolding during the week-long Buccaneer Days Festival, a new 'tradition' created by the local Chamber of Commerce, SUNSHINE STATE is set in Plantation Island, Florida, a place where local real estate development is changing a modest beachside community into an upscale, manicured resort for winter-weary Northerners. The long-time locals, are divided on whether to cash in or stand their ground. The newcomers are eager to enjoy the good life and/or make a quick buck. Plantation Island, like its residents, is in transition.
Marly Temple (Edie Falco) is living her father's (Ralph Waite) dream of running a motel, only it has become her nightmare. Her father is too opinionated, but too sick to run the place himself anymore. Her mother (Jane Alexander) is immersed in the community theater group she runs like an impresario. Marly herself has given up her career as a 'Weeki Wachee Mermaid' and her marriage to Steve (Richard Edson) is over. She begins a tentative romance with Jack Meadows (Timothy Hutton), a landscape architect recently arrived to transform a section of the island into a 'natural' gated community. Now that her life consists of avoiding Steve, nursing hangovers and waking up with the wrong guy, Marly is tempted to accept a takeover bid for her motel from a strip mall developer.
In the next town along, Desiree Perry (Angela Bassett) has returned to visit and show off her new anaesthesiologist husband, Reggie (James McDaniel). Sent away by her proud parents after she disgraced them by getting pregnant at 15, Desiree, like Marly, pursued a career in 'show business'. But instead of Broadway or movies, her appearances have been limited to industrials and infomercials. Still intimidated by her strong-willed mother Eunice (Mary Alice), Desiree returns to find that her little hometown of Lincoln Beach, an African-American enclave created during the era of segregation, is, like its neighboring Plantation Island, being eyed by developers.
Her mother has taken in a relative, Terrell (Bernard Alexander Lewis), a troubled adolescent boy, and Reggie finds himself reluctantly pushed into being a role model. The emotional stakes are raised by the appearance of Flash Phillips (Tom Wright), the former football star who like Lincoln Beach, he too has fallen upon harder times.
As both Marly and Desiree grapple with the sometimes-overwhelming weight of family history and family expectations, and wrestle with questions of love, duty and responsibility, SUNSHINE STATE offers an indelible portrait of two women, two families, and two communities standing on the brink of change.