“It’s hard right now.” Bryan Wizemann’s boldly understated, unsentimental “About Sunny” (aka “Think of Me”) showcases Lauren Ambrose in the role of Angela, a volatile, negligent single mother in nocturnal Las Vegas who makes one bad choice after another and the problems that it leads to with her daughter, Sunny (Audrey Scott, just a little bit goofy and ever so genuine). But Angela’s no bad guy, the bad guy’s there at every turn, the wolf at the door: the quotidian of contemporary American working-class poverty. “It’s hard right now”: that line, proud but quietly desperate, burns like fire. Locations and each element of décor and costume quietly announce: “It’s hard right now.” Ambrose shoulders Angela’s dread with dignity but also a presentiment of doom. Keenly observed, superbly acted, cleanly framed and shot, it’s still no surprise that a relentless experience like “About Sunny” has taken nearly two years to arrive on-screen. It’s hard to break a taboo like depicting the everyday humiliations of America’s swelling ranks of the working poor. The film’s final panorama is a beauty and a marvel, a horizon where light may just be breaking, where traffic lights may stay green, where day is promised over the glittering, populated horizon. I wept. With Dylan Baker, Penelope Ann Miller. 103m. (Ray Pride)
“About Sunny” opens Friday at Facets. For a taste of Wizemann’s substantial skill, his twelve-minute documentary, “Film Makes Us Happy,” is below.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor of Filmmaker magazine. He is also a photographer: his history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images is forthcoming; previews on Twitter (twitter.com/chighostsigns) as well as daily photography on Instagram: instagram.com/raypride. Twitter: twitter.com/rayPride. (Photo: Jorge Colombo.)