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Apr 21, 2013

Naomi Watts looks stunning at "Sunlight Jr." premiere @Tribeca FF on April 20, 2013

The perfect print: Naomi Watts looks stunning in geometric dress at Tribeca Film Festival

She normally opts for comfort, frequently spotted in boyfriend jeans.

But Naomi put her maternal style aside for the world premiere of Sunlight Jr. on Saturday at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.

Making a noticeable entrance, she dazzled in a geometric-printed dress as she arrived to the star-studded soiree, and walked the red carpet, with the director and co-star Matt Dillon and other cast and crew members.

[more photos]


credit: ZoominTV


credit: Reuters

[First Reviews]
(Read on with Spoilers Alert)

Tribeca Review: ‘Sunlight Jr.’ Authentically Portrays The Underclass, But Spares Few Rays Of Hope

by Rodrigo Perez,
April 21, 2013

Laurie Collyer’s main absorption is the forgotten underclass and their perils.

The filmmaker behind “Sherrybaby” (and the gripping social documentary “Nuyorican Dream”), Collyer hasn’t made a movie since 2006, but her latest, “Sunlight Jr.,” could easily act as the third in a trilogy about the the impoverished, the destitute and the depressed.

And severely depressed, “Sunlight Jr.” is. So much so that it may be too hard to watch for some viewers. Set in the indigent, trailer-park trash areas of Southern Florida, Collyer’s latest writer/directorial effort centers on a uneducated, penniless couple struggling to get by on minimum wage. Their daily struggle is doubly difficult to endure because Richie (Matt Dillon) is a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair. The best he can do is a small stipend of Medicare aid, disability compensation and selling off broken electronics that this handyman has fixed. To ease the grind he siphons gasoline from cars and indulges in a little too much booze to take off the edge. But Richie isn’t a bitter drunk, never feels sorry for himself and is always trying to be the man of the house despite his challenges.

Melissa (Naomi Watts) on the other hand is the breadwinner of the house -- make that the motel room they rent and the bills they suffer to pay each month. But her thankless minimum wage job at a convenience chain called Sunlight is little source of financial or emotional comfort. The manager is a sleazeball, the pay is pitiful, and soon she’s working dangerous graveyard hours. Exacerbating their difficulties is Justin (Norman Reedus), a greasy scumbag OxyContin dealer and the abusive ex-boyfriend that is stalking Melissa at work.

The couple's best reprieve, other than cigarettes and booze, is their copious, lustful lovemaking. Yes, Richie can’t walk, but fortunately for them, it’s still fully functioning downstairs (and yes, since this is a Laurie Collyer film and Naomi Watts stars, there’s plenty of naked raw sex and nudity). But on top of strained finances, a shitty boss and a harassing ex-boyfriend, the couple’s life takes a turn for the worse when they become pregnant. What is briefly a joyful occasion quickly becomes another increasingly difficult obstacle when Melissa’s store manager gives her late-night shifts and an emergency hospital visit lands them a $1,500 medical bill they don’t know how to pay.

Though Collyer always presents her characters with respect and dignity and her “Sunlight Jr.” drama is in many respects soulful, humanistic and an authentic portrait of the distressed and exploited have-nots, the picture is also unrelentingly bleak. Few rays of hope or sunlight enter the frames of this picture and every dire situation and circumstance grows into something more oppressively dark.

Matt Dillon and Naomi Watts anchor the picture with absorbing and impressive performances, but “Sunlight Jr." is also lacking much narrative. Or rather, Collyer is much less interested in narrative and three-act structure (which often give directionless pictures a little focus) than she is in her characters. This is to the picture’s benefit and detriment. On the one hand, the film and screenplay is smart enough to never explain how Richie got into a wheelchair (the worst case scenario being an expository line of dialogue that sticks out like a sore thumb). And it’s honest and doesn’t feel the need to add crime or one central dramatic plot device to lift the stakes or movie-ize the narrative. On the flip side of the coin, some even small concessions towards story could have made the drama feel less like an abject and merciless portrait of the underprivileged.


[The Hollywood Reporter's Review]

Naomi Watts and Matt Dillon respectively portray a convenience store clerk and paraplegic who struggle under harsh financial circumstances in seedy Florida.

4/21/2013 by Frank Scheck

Naomi Watts and Matt Dillon bring impressive emotional and physical heat to Sunlight Jr., director/screenwriter Laurie Collyer’s beautifully observed character study of an unmarried couple living on the economic margins. Featuring the same humanistic qualities as the filmmaker’s last effort, Sherrybaby, this low-key gem being featured at the Tribeca Film Festival shines a sympathetic light on an ever-growing underclass that too rarely receives cinematic exposure.

Very much in love, convenience store clerk Melissa (Watts) and her paraplegic boyfriend Richie (Dillon) are barely making ends meet on his monthly disability checks and her low wages. Their harsh circumstances are immediately signaled in the opening scene, when they run out of gas on the way to bringing her to work.

Facing eviction from the run-down motel in which they live, they find their lives further complicated by Melissa’s abusive boss and her frequent run-ins with Justin (Norman Reedus, of The Walking Dead), the ex-boyfriend who keeps sniffing around now that a restraining order has been lifted.

Collyer’s minimalist screenplay revolves such less-than-earthshaking plot elements as Melissa being consigned to the graveyard shift and the news of an unplanned pregnancy. But it beautifully conveys the intense bond between the two principal characters, their love undimmed by their poverty.

Dillon, an actor who’s played more than his share of heavies, brings a tender sweetness to his portrayal of the wheelchair-bound, hard-drinking Richie, who’s not afraid to get in a physical dust-up with the muscular Justin despite his handicap. And Watts brings a sexy intensity to her turn as the beleaguered Melissa, whose hopes of getting into a college scholarship program are consistently thwarted.

Set in a seedy underbelly of southern Florida dominated by strip malls and swap meets, the film conveys its lower-class milieu with a bracing authenticity. The lowered expectations are vividly illustrated by Melissa’s mother (an excellent Tess Harper), who runs a makeshift childcare center in her home, telling her “Richie never hit you…so you did good there.”

The film also includes--in a rarity for today’s prudish cinema--a torrid sex scene between Watts and Dillon that inevitably recalls the groundbreaking one featuring Jane Fonda and Jon Voight in Coming Home 35 years ago.

Sunlight Jr. is unblinking in its bleak depiction of its main characters’ plight. But its positive portrayal of two mature people who truly respect and care for each other provides uplifting glimmers of hope.

(Tribeca Film Festival)

Production: Original Media, Freight Yard, Alchemedia Films

Cast: Naomi Watts, Matt Dillon, Tess Harper, Norman Reedus, Antoni Corone, Adrienne Lovette

Director/screenwriter: Laurie Collyer

Producers: Andrea Roa, Charlie Corwin, Ariel Elia

Executive producers: Dan Klabin, Fisher Stevens, William Dietrich, Simon Fawcett, Joshua Skurla

Director of photography: Igor Martinovic

Editor: Curtiss Clayton

Production designer: Jade Healy

Costume designer: Amanda Ford

Composer: J Mascis

Not rated, 90 min.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful. She looks great in every shot.

Anonymous said...


Amy said...

Thank you for the first look. She looks fantastic in this dress.

s2 said...

She pulled it off.

kateB said...

Another great performance. Deeply impressed.