Laura loses her family in a tragic fire while living in Spain. Just as she prepares to return home to the States, a member of the American embassy provides proof that it wasn't an accident.... See full summary »
Penelope Ann Miller,
The Brighton has a traumatic drama in the breast of their family: the twenty years old Emily Brighton is intellectually disabled due to a fall when she was one, and her overprotective ... See full summary »
Set at the end of the Civil War, widowed mother of 3 Belle Gatlin Barlowe faces uncertainty as she attempts to defend her family's land by any means necessary. When the corrupt bank that ... See full summary »
Imperfect, and it's ground we've seen before, but very well done, especially by Ambrose
About Sunny (2011)
A slice of life realistic story about a young mother and her daughter living on the edge of subsistence in Nevada. Lauren Ambrose (who was Claire in "Six Feet Under") is terrific, not overplaying a slightly hardened but still sympathetic character. The story is mostly about how things go a little bit wrong, not through stupidity (as in some movies like this where the leading female makes huge mistakes) but through some smaller misjudgments.
The daughter is terrific, too, and so we see a tension and tolerance in her relationship to her mom, who clearly loves her but is always a bit short on patience. The one real twist, which is a bit forced into the plot, is a relative of a co-worker who has some designs on the girl. This, too, is played with some subtlety, though the idea is just unlikely and sudden enough to force you to go along with it. It's not inevitable.
Even so this other plot is a small part of what really happens, with the growing feelings you have for the main two people. It's clearly a low budget indie film, and is produced by Ambrose, so you can see some smart attempts at moving her career forward. And she pulls it off with a heart wrenching, cinema-verite story that is maybe just a hair to close to the truth for many people to make it comfortable. How easy it is to watch more terrible tragedies (from "Goodfellas" to "Pulp Fiction") and how hard to see what might be true (here and in "Julia" which makes for a weird, imperfect parallel).
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