West of Sunshine will make you check your emotions before it's through. Between the good times and the bad times, we get to join Jim and his son Alex as they find their way through.
- You will hate Jim at times
- Jim's redemption makes you feel good in the end
- You will love Jim at times
- Jim will remind you of your own shortcomings
West of Sunshine: A Tale To Tug At Your Emotions
We start our cinematic adventure as Jim (Damian Hill) starts his day. On his drive into town, the sun is coming up, and we get to see Jim’s life as he’s driving his father’s classic 1965 Ford Fairlane 500. Jim picks up his friend Steve and immediately we have a feel for where the story is headed. Jim picks up his friend Steve, and before we know it, they are running late.
Along their drive, we learn that Jim owes a man money. Jim owes a man a sizable amount of money. Steve asks about it, his girlfriend asks about it. Add to that, Jim and his son Alex’s relationship is not the best. Alex is not the most cooperative of passengers. Jim has to work, and Alex, like it or not is along for the ride.
Jim Opens His Eyes
Jim is a courier. Not the most exciting career to be sure, but it is a constant change of scenery. Unfortunately for Alex however, he gets to spend a good part of his day sitting in the car while Jim handles his deliveries. Alex is going through what many kids his age do. Suffering from nightmares and being disappointed by his father’s predisposition for getting caught up in things he doesn’t need to be in. Alex has to wait until the days he can be with his father to tell him about the nightmares. Jim shares with him that Alex is not alone, and shares that Jim suffered nightmares of his own as a kid.
“I realized a lot more about the man in his shoes, and the situation he was in. I think that if you watch West of Sunshine you will experience some of these same revelations.” – Patrick Mackey YBLTV Writer / Reviewer @mackeyp42
Alex feels like a hinderance to Jim’s daily plans for a good portion of the film. Jim and Steve meet to place a bet during lunch, which could solve a great amount of problems for Jim. Sadly however, as often happens with compulsion and addiction, Jim quickly loses that which would give him a clean break from his debtors.
He spends an exhausting amount of energy tracking down friends and acquaintances looking for a loan in order to make it right. Other friends he asks to find a friend who can watch Alex for the day, so he can scramble around town looking for a payday. Jim even sinks to the low of taking his prize, his father’s 1965 Ford Fairlane 500 to a car lot looking that big payout.
Struggling with how he is going to dig himself out of this hole, Jim turns to being a delivery boy for an old friend. This delivery gig involves illegal substances, for which Jim is increasing his risk in order to make ends meet. While Jim is zigging and zagging his way around town for a buck, he is able to put together some of what he needs, but in the end he falls short.
It takes the possibility of a life-threatening scare to make Jim realize what he needs to do. Only then does Jim finally decide to face his reality head on, and makes his way to meet with the man he owes money to. Leaving Alex in the car, Jim goes in to meet what can only be a certain level of tragedy. Once he faces his demons, he is able to reconnect with his family and move on with his life.
The first time I watched West of Sunshine, I wanted to hate Jim. I took a judgemental attitude toward his behavior. Once I settled in and watched the film a second time, I realized a lot more about the man in his shoes, and the situation he was in. I think that if you watch West of Sunshine you will experience some of these same revelations.
We quickly learn that Jim is a decent guy that’s gotten himself into a hard place by having a gambling problem. Now the struggle is how to get his way out of it. Jason Raftopolous does an incredible job of showing Jim in a humanizing light. Everyone struggles with something: obsession, depression, addiction or any number of other problems. What becomes the more difficult thing is to realize that the person who suffers from these problems is still no different than you or me. They have simply had a worse string of luck in one manner or another.
West of Sunshine Info:
Genre: Drama, Crime
Studio: Uncork’d Entertainment
Starring: Damian Hill, Ty Perham, Arthur Angel
Directed By: Jason Raftopoulos
Disclosure of Material Connection: YBLTV Writer / Reviewer Patrick Mackey, received a digital copy of West of Sunshine for free from Uncork’d Entertainment in consideration for a Product Review.