New Noir Film: Sun Don't Shine

Over at Hammer to Nail, I have a review of a terrific new independent film called Sun Don't Shine. A "lovers on the run" story shot on location in and around St. Petersburg, FL, the movie evokes the sweat-soaked panic of Harry Whittington, Gil Brewer, Day Keene, and other paperback crime writers who were (coincidentally or not) also based out of St. Petersburg. It's alternately gritty and hazy, violent and ambient, a drunken swirl of emotion, and a perpetual downward spiral of paranoia and distrust.

Just look at that tagline: "Good hearts can do bad things." Can you get more noir than that?

The movie begins with Crystal and Leo fighting on a backroad. The cause of the fight is unknown. Moments later, they get back in the car and hit the road. Tampa is only a few hours away. Leo knows someone with a boat. Crystal is scared. Leo doesn't trust her. The details behind their flight are hazy, but one thing is for certain: they can't turn back now.

This movie is a great example of how neo-noir doesn't have to resort to pastiche. The 16mm photography is beautiful, the cast is terrific, and the story packs a wallop. The movie was directed and written by Amy Seimetz, and it is her first feature film. It has been picked up for distribution by Factory 25, but no release date has been announced. Here's an excerpt from the review, or you can read the whole review here:

Seimetz’s story is something straight out of the vintage noir paperbacks of Harry Whittington, Day Keene, or Gil Brewer—writers who, coincidentally or not, were based in or around St. Petersburg, FL, the hometown of Seimetz and the setting for Sun Don’t Shine. Like those writers before her, Seimetz captures the sweat-stained angst of working class protagonists who lack the means to outrun their past or escape to some future, leaving behind the dreary, sun-drenched rot of the Florida landscape. I don’t know how much of the influence is deliberate or how much is chance—or maybe it’s something in that Florida sunlight—but Seimetz also shares certain stylistic characteristics with those artists. Their narratives alternate between frantic energy and a more anxious lethargy, like a bad panic hangover that just won’t go away. The total effect is a nightmarish haze of paranoia, hysteria, and murder.

Seimetz’s direction suggests an unlikely but complementary fusion of noir and experimental cinema. Think the pulpy mania of Joseph H. Lewis or Anthony Mann mixed with the ethereal, tonal ambiance of James Benning or Terrence Malick. Heightened levels of domestic violence—often exacerbated by the claustrophobic confines of cars or cramped living spaces—alternated with the trance-like repetitiveness of highways and back roads. Nightmare and dreamstate—and nothing in between. Instead of long shots that would establish location and a more complete sense of space, Seimetz prefers medium 2-shots (restricting the world to the two lovers) and extreme close-ups (disembodying them from their surroundings and each other). This insures that Crystal and Leo never feel at home in any space, and that they—like us—are never quite sure where they are.

SUN DON'T SHINE Teaser from David Lowery on Vimeo.


  1. Looks like a good one. Thanks. Florida always makes me think of a couple crime films: BODY HEAT and NIGHT MOVES.


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