Unflinchingly portraying the harsher side of an all-too-timely lifestyle, Sunlight Jr. tells the tale of Melissa (Naomi Watts) and Richie (Matt Dillon) – a couple collectively benefiting from the former’s job at the titular convenience store and the latter’s disability paychecks – as the two lovingly coexist despite overbearing poverty. Now expecting a baby, the couple tries their best to prepare for his or her arrival even as hardships aplenty rear their ugly heads in the face of economic adversity.
Thrust immediately into the thick of things, viewers easily grasp the severity of the central couple’s predicament regarding their hotel room accommodations and contributing factors. From one’s literal inability to work to the other’s struggle to rid herself of a former lover and lifestyle, the film rarely falters in the realm of palpable downtrodden humanism as each character sets their sights on the future and remains cautiously optimistic. Even still, Sunlight Jr.‘s inability to shy away from the obviously harsher aspects of a very real, moreover ever-present scenario in today’s society will prove taxing for those unprepared for such an appropriately relentless portrait.
Regardless of Sunlight Jr.‘s obvious intentions in illustrating the timely plight of a relatably impoverished couple, the film isn’t as eye-opening as it is a familiarly booze-filled tale of individuals’ longing for self-betterment and stability during a time when neither are easily attainable. It certainly earns points for its steadfast glimpse at those less fortunate, however Collyer’s vision is as predictable as you’d think it’d be given the affecting economic climate as of late. Even still, Dillon, Reedus and Watts deliver noteworthy performances that benchmark an otherwise competent social commentary-heavy exercise.