It’s been 10 years since the very first Tribeca Film Festival and I have always been curious to attend, so when American Express offered tickets to their members (me and my husband), we jumped at the chance.
The film we would be viewing was Sunlight Jr. starring Naomi Watts and Matt Dillon. The screening was at the Crosby Street Hotel this past Monday. I will admit, I was a bit annoyed that our film wasn’t actually showing in Tribeca, but instead Soho; however this was a convenient plus since it was just a block from the 6 train which made our commute way easy (lookin’ at the positive).
We arrived at 6:45pm for the cocktail reception at the hotel which was very nice and very “New York”, whatever that means. We were greeted by two tall and thin girls wearing flight attendant outfits. Ah yes, our American Express is a Delta Amex – I suppose any opportunity to promote they will take it. We registered, got our ‘boarding pass’ and joined the other guest in a lovely room to consume any cocktail of our liking and hors d’oeuvres fit for a wedding reception.
By 8 pm our tummies were full and we were ready for the movie. The doors to the screening room finally opened. As we walked in, we were offered gourmet popcorn and water. Wow! If only all movie theaters were this nice with plush, orange seats and enough leg room to not have to stand up when people walk in front of you. If only Delta’s airplanes had this much space – they should learn from their own sponsored event. Soon everyone was seated, the lights dimmed and the movie began sans previews – missed but we figured.
With a name like Sunlight Jr. we were hoping for a happy, sunshiny movie like the off-beat road film, Little Miss Sunshine or the gruesome dramedy Sunshine Cleaners, but we got neither. So very contrary to it’s name, Sunlight Jr. was uncomfortable to watch and quite depressing. I wouldn’t say we hated it, but, well, I didn’t love it. I will say, both Naomi Watts and Matt Dillon did a fantastic job portraying Melissa (Naomi Watts) and Richie (Matt Dillon), a struggling couple living in poverty in rural Florida. Their lives are tough and it’s hard not to judge the ignorance of the characters because you can see what they should do even with what little they have. Melissa is a cashier at Sunshine Jr., a gas station/convenience store and Richie is an ex-construction worker now in a wheelchair due to an accident. They live paycheck to paycheck in a pay-by-month motel. She wants to move up the ‘corporate ladder’ at Sunshine, but has no clue what that means and eventually loses her job; he is a good support for her, but is struggling with his own demons. They are faced with a jealous ex-boyfriend, a drunk mother whom graciously takes care of a few foster children, and a pregnancy that was both wanted and unwanted at the same time. You see the characters struggle, and get the impression they have always struggled and will continue to do so which makes you want to scream. The movie was a snapshot of these people’s lives. The beginning and end wasn’t neither a beginning nor an end. You’re left feeling sorry for them just as you did in the opening scene. No more, no less. Maybe I didn’t like it because it was frustrating. These characters pissed me off, the system pisses me off, I left feeling like sunshine was nowhere near and never ever attainable, and that is depressing. But, I guess, maybe that was the point of the movie.
We decided to not attend the film discussion following the movie (my husband had a very early morning train to catch the next day) and, along with a few others, snuck out of the tiny theatre. We were handed a small swag bag full of goodies – just like all movie premiers I am sure ;-) – and headed home.
Attending the Tribeca Film Festival and screening a movie not yet released was a great experience. We’re glad we put this one on the list!