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Sunshine State Review

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As Delrona Beach celebrates 'Buccaneer Days', rival property developers arouse mixed emotions among townsfolk. Marly longs to sell her family's motel, while Desiree, back after 25 years, resists being drawn into the community's fight to preserve its ideals.

★★★★★

Indie emeritus John Sayles crosses the continent from his Alaskan-set Limbo for a more emotionally accessible comedy-drama on a Florida seaside, well off the Miami-Disney World itinerary.

From a teenage arsonist to a failed actress and a suicidal embezzler, the characters wrestle with their problems while battles ensue between property developers around a proposed resort. The most engaging element is the tentative romance between Falco's weary ex-mermaid and landscape architect Hutton, while most poignant is venerable Bill Cobbs, championing a once prosperous black community.

In an excellent ensemble (which includes Sayles regular Tom Wright as the local has-been hero and NYPD Blue duo James McDaniel and Gordon Clapp) Steenburgen is a scream as the harassed organiser trying to drum up tourism with tacky pirate shows and a man-eating alligator. The Sopranos' Falco is also terrific.

It’s not as focused as Sayles’ earlier wide-ranging dramas, and could use more Altmanesque coincidence and connections to pull it together. But the performances are strong, with the characters benefiting from Sayles’ customary wit and understanding.

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