Aneesh Chaganty

Movie #178 Little Miss Sunshine

In Uncategorized on April 7, 2011 at 6:25 AM

Movie #178 Little Miss Sunshine

(2006, US, d. Jonathan Dayton,  Valerie Faris)

Most of the props here go to writer Michael Arndt and cinematographer Tim Surstedt. Basically a showcase for Arndt’s (Academy Award winning) talent, Little Miss Sunshine is filled with great dialogue, quirky characters, bizarre situations, but real and grounded drama. It’s funny, sad, and heart-warming at the same time and most of all, contains a very unique tone to other independent films. That tone: reality. And by that I mean: A lot of independent films try as hard as they can to look and feel and speak indie, but the end result is just a mask. A phony film. Little Miss Sunshine isn’t that. It’s grounded in a familial tension we’ve all felt before and the characters are speaking witty to be witty (like Juno). They’re actually saying something of significance (unlike Juno). Secondly, Surstedt’s camera work and lighting here is inspired. Using light to overexpose in the right ways, bringing out the yellows of California in every scene, and framing the shots just a little too right to the point where they look…wrong: these are all things that Surstedt works in wonderfully and is something that, I believe, went largely unnoticed in the awards circuit. Oh, and do I have to mention the performances? Though I’m still on the fence of whether or not Alan Arkin deserved the Academy Award win, the other character actors around him were just as incredible, if not more so. Greg Kinnear delivers one of his best performances, as does Steve Carell and the young Abigail Breslin. Though I wasn’t as crazy about Paul Dano as everyone else seemed to be, his almost-silent performance does have a subtle strength to it. Overall, a very, very well-written film. And the waves the screenplay form just can’t help but shine some good sunshine on everyone involved.

 

Did you get that pun?

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