Director: Bryan Wizemann
Writer: Bryan Wizemann
Stars: Lauren Ambrose, E.K Harris, Audrey P. Scott
Las Vegas: The town that never sleeps, never closes its doors, and always keeps its lanterns lit for the desperate and the hopeful. A city where legends go to die as they play their songs of yesteryear in smoke filled hotels. A city in which fame and fortune is within every spin of the wheel, every flip of the card, and every yank of the leaver. A dream-world filled with neon glitz, carnival tricks, and the allure of sexual perfume. Dreams are made, and then crushed. The house always wins.
Beyond the electric landscape, fake marriages and Wayne Newton performances, there is a darker side to the desert city. Nevada has gone from having the lowest unemployment in 2006 at 4% to the highest at 13.4% against the national rate of 9.1% in 2012. For the rich – mostly from out of town – the good times are rolling. For those in coach, they seem a long way off.
The character-driven film About Sunny (first titled Think of Me) is a masterful depiction on single parenthood in an environment that tends to only shine its lights on those who keep the dream that is Vegas alive. Wizemann has written a story that’s both generally sympathetic to the troubles of the many, many people struggling on the brink of financial disaster to hold their lives and their families together, to take care of their kids and give them the best shot they can, and socially relevant to the moment in which we are living. In Angela (Lauren Ambrose), he’s created a complex character, a mother who loves her daughter Sunny (Audrey Scott) totally and wants very much to be a decent mom taking good care of her daughter, but who also makes some pretty terrible choices along the way. Yet Wizemann, with his own choices as a writer-director, refrains from judging Angela and women like her, instead choosing to simply observe her struggles and see where she ends up.
With Angela, we are looking through the lens at a women’s life in a domino effect. We see her troubles with gambling addiction when we see her scurry into an off-strip convenience store for a pack of cigs and a round of video poker on one of the stores machines. Her car is as old as the town, dusty, and breaks down every time it gets wet. Even though Angela is not a prostitute by trade, her affairs with the men she meets would make you think otherwise; after a one-night tryst with a gentleman from a strip club she asks him in the morning if she can borrow $100 (indirect prostitution).
Home cooked meals are vacant from her apartment as she has no time to cook since she works long hours at a shitty job and eventually has to take on a second night job to pay for mounting costs. Angela is soon approached by two co-workers who offer her different types of deals to help her with her situation, however, both have their costs to her and Sunny.
This is the kind of stylish, intimate storytelling that delves away from so much of the same-old predictable, “poor me, my twenty-something friends and I just can’t move past our languor to get our shit together” indie films that we see over and over again. Wizemann’s film conversely is beautifully shot, tells a complex story in a way that’s not contrived or overly complex.
About Sunny is a relevant film addressing one of the most pressing social issues (well, after Congressional budgetary bullshit, social security, pensions, mental health and Americas health care system) its dealing with today. Every day we see people in America just snapping, losing it out of nowhere and yet people are shocked?
When people have nothing left to lose, they lose it. Things will get a lot worse before they get any better, and by the looks of recent events, we are entering that dark period of depression and uncertainly that so many have warned about while others have laughed whilst saying that it would never happen to a country like the U.S. Newsflash, what’s happening in the U.S is essentially what happened to the great Roman Empire, only that America will be the shortest lived empire the world has ever seen; until then, bread and circus for all.
I’ll leave now with the song Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas that captures the film to a tee by the very amazing, Brandon Flowers who was born and raised in this town of lights and hope.