September 7, 2013

The New Year

Brett Haley, 2010

Sunny (Trieste Kelly Dunn) drops out of college to return home to Pensacola to take care of her sick father. She gets a job a the local bowling alley and dates Tai Kwon Do instructor Neal (Kevin Wheatley). After reuniting with high school friend Isaac (Ryan Hunter), she becomes eager for a change in scenery.

There are a lot of Indie pictures that have a similar construct. High school buddies reuniting, underemployed at the embarrassing job, stale relationships. It's just a matter of its done well. Here it is done well. That's largely due to Trieste Kelly Dunn's performance as Sunny. Kelly Dunn possesses the physical qualities of Rebecca Gayheart combined with the quirky demeanor of Aubrey Plaza. Sunny is a complicated person. Shes interesting, because while she keeps a lot of her emotions locked away she is still quite expressive to those around her. Spontaneously eccentric like Ellen Page's character in Juno, but with more unpredictability. She returns to Florida, not exactly thrilled, to take her of her father after he is diagnosed with cancer. Her mother nowhere to be found, all that remains is photographs on the refrigerator door. Her father, who appears defeated by the disease, also bears a sense of guilt over keeping Sunny around but is clearly appreciative. There is no manipulation or guilt trips. You get a sense of good parenting on his part, because Sunny takes care of him on her own accord. She feels the weight of being his live-in nurse, but obviously doesn't want to waste whatever time she has left with him. Clearly someone who puts others first, she finally gets a taste of the outside world when she runs into Isaac. Isaac, amateur stand-up comedian, did what she wasn't able to do. He was able to take a risk and just leave Pensacola to see what was out there. Not really confident that his stand-up career will pan out, he can at least pat himself on the back for giving it a shot. Sunny feels the clock is ticking, and she can almost feel the roots growing.

The film is quite character-driven and they all have some colorful and comedic qualities. Sunny's best friend Amy (Linda Lee McBride) is a good example of the friend who settled into her hometown and grew roots. She's sort of the opposite of Sunny's character in the sense that she's very extroverted and attention-seeking. She's married to wannabe-G Bobby (David McElfresh), who barely speaks himself and lets her do all of the talking. There's something really funny about his character, still stuck in his high school thug persona. You have her boyfriend Neal who takes great pride in his martial arts school. He's a nice guy, and is good to her but doesn't have the same urge to leave Pensacola. She can see him doing the same thing ten years later and she doesn't want to look that far ahead. It's an accessible piece because it feels real, and that's all you really need. If you can get invested in Sunny's character, it's going to work for you.


  1. you should watch and review 'the snowtown murders' it's on netflix

  2. I think i have it on my queue... how come this one made you think of that?