“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 to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published soon. Previews of the project are on Twitter and on Instagram as Ghost Signs Chicago. More photography on Instagram.