Two-time Oscar nominee Naomi Watts stars in 2013’s "Sunlight Jr." as white trash cashier Melissa.
One-time Oscar nominee Matt Dillon plays her paraplegic boyfriend Richie in writer/director Laurie Collyer’s 95-minute meditation on living in hell in paradise.
Set in a seedy section of Florida, the couple lives in a dirt bag motel, and Melissa (Missy) earns a meager living at the Sunlight Jr. convenience store, suffering under slimy sexist manager Edwin (Antoni Corone) and dodging her stalker ex Justin (creepy, tattooed Norman Reedus from "The Walking Dead"). Richie’s a former electronics repairman, unable to find work in the new high-tech environment, and now lives on disability payments and booze, hanging out with the toothless, braless and hopeless underclass.
Missy attempts to better herself by applying for subsidized college classes and by reading "Crime and Punishment," but ends up losing her job for sleeping during her graveyard shift, and getting pregnant (although she seems a bit old for this). They grapple with a high emergency sonogram bill in a time before Obamacare.
The film tries to show what it’s like living from paycheck to paycheck, how the 99% survive without a safety net, but falls flat. J. Macsis’s misplaced music throbs throughout, never allowing moments of silence in which to process this despair. Even veteran character actor Tess Harper, as Missy’s foster child-rearing mother Kathleen, whom the pair has to move in with, can’t give this narrative more than two dimensions.
The DVD is sparse, too, offering no extras.