No filmmaker today is more of a researcher of people and their relationships than independent filmmaker, John Sayles."Sunshine State" is set in two adjoining contemporary coastal communities– one white (Plantation Island) and the other black (Lincoln Beach).The residents of these communities face losing their beachfront property to developers who want to turn the area into a vacation resort, coastal townhouses and chain stores.
The film begins with several elite older white men on a golf course discussing business and growth.Its obvious that these old codgers are not concerned with how their business ventures affect the poor, working or middle class people.We note early on in the film that the town is preparing for an annual celebration (Buccaneer Days– the founding of their city).
Sayles is most noted for revealing the good and ugly of his characters.He especially likes to tackle the difficult relationships between ethnic groups.We expect a certain level of racism and we are not disappointed– after all, this is Florida.But we don't find one-dimensional characters.The old, hard-line traditional southerner (Mr. Tremble) is nostalgic for long ago days when whites and blacks "knew their places.
"He comments on how good life was before affirmative action and integration.But throughout the film, we find that there is more to him than the stereotypical white angry male.He talks about how he had to accept change and "it's never as bad as you think it'll be."Oddly enough, there is a retired Black doctor in town who also sees something wonderful about the good ole days.Before integration, says the doctor, Blacks had their own town and businesses.But Black towns were wiped out with segregation.
In reality, this has become the lament of man! y Blacks– especially of the South.While integration brought certain freedoms, it also destroyed most Black businesse…