Without too much effort, Sunny can bowl a 300 game … or she can roll a series of gutter balls. She has the talent to bowl as well as she wants, but she has to be motivated.
And for Sunny, life is much the same way. She has the tools to be as successful as she chooses to be, but she is content to let life happen as it may.
Sunny is smart — very smart — but she spends her days working the shoe rental counter at a failing bowling alley where she does little more than read books and clown around with an affable co-worker.
And Sunny is beautiful, effortlessly so. Played by Trieste Kelly Dunn, Sunny is seemingly unaware of how beautiful she is. She is in a relationship with Neal (played by Kevin Wheatley) who runs a martial arts center for young people. They have been together for a while and for Sunny, being with Neal is easier than being without him.
Sunny left college two years ago to come home and care for her father, who has cancer. Since then, Sunny has been coasting. And while there is nothing special going on in her life, everything is easy, so she is content to let life happen around her … until a former high school classmate comes back home.
When Glen (played by Ryan Hunter) arrives, Sunny seems to awaken a bit, especially after hearing that Glen has been in New York trying to make it as a stand-up comedian. Sunny also seems to feel some attraction for Glen, while Glen definitely is interested in Sunny.
The best thing “The New Year” has going for it is that the people in the story seem real. These aren’t characters going through the motions, blindly following the standard paths of a Hollywood rom-com. If you have seen too many romantic comedies lately, you may have an idea of where you think the story is headed, but you would be wrong. The characters takes paths real people might take and make the same mistakes real people make.
Writer-director Brett Haley and writer Elizabeth Kennedy take their characters down interesting, yet believable, paths. And each of the characters of Sunny, Glen and Neal are well drawn out, so much so, in fact, that any of the three could easily sustain their own movie.
As the lead character, Trieste Kelly Dunn is a revelation. Stunningly attractive, she easily holds the screen. Her perfectly modulated performance balances the film, creating a character that would be worth knowing in real life. Several of Sunny’s scenes in the film could easily have been over-played by a less capable actress, but Dunn reigns in her performance and makes the character all the more compelling.
Both thoughtful and entertaining, “The New Year” is the kind of movie they just don’t make enough of any more.
“The New Year” is available for rental or purchase on iTunes.
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