Thirtyish Crystal and Leo are on the run and coaxing his weathered (and probably uninsured) sedan through central Florida. Crystal is a white-hot mess. I was going to describe her as needy and erratic, but those adjectives seem inadequate. She is a unfiltered, explosive bundle of nerves, filled with impulses that are unfailingly ruinous. The suspense in Sun Don’t Shine stems from whether Leo can navigate an escape path through her emotional minefield; we can tell from the neo-noir undercurrent that she’s going to bring him down no matter what.
In her first feature, writer-director Amy Seimetz combines a command of pacing with a Malickesque visual sense. Watching her sweaty characters, we can feel both the Floridian humidity and the relief from air conditioning in a tourist trap. (A promising actor, Seimetz just turned in a compelling performance in the controversial Upstream Color.)
The strength of the screenplay is that the audience only gradually learns why the two are on the run, from what and to where. However, those revelations are not surprising. Fortunately, Seimetz has chosen not to send her characters on yet another hyper-violent nihilistic crime spree.
But why doesn’t Leo leave Crystal on the side of the road and drive the hell away? After about fifteen minutes, we know that’s his only chance. He’s not very bright, but he is grounded in reality, and we wonder why he is so drawn to this wackadoodle. It may be a fim noir, but she sure isn’t Mary Astor’s Brigid O’Shaughnessy in Maltese Falcon.
Watching Sun Don’t Shine is a 96-minute simulation of having an annoyingly clingy and scarily volatile girlfriend. Long ago my friend Steve advised me, “Never sleep with anyone crazier than you are”. Sage words, my friend.
Sun Don’t Shine is available for streaming from Amazon Instant and other VOD outlets, and is beginning a limited theatrical release.