New Internationalist

Scattered People

August 2002

John Sayles’ Florida is a magical place where developers swap mangrove forests for ‘nature on a leash’. Two women, played by Edie Falco and Angela Bassett, return to their roots in a northern coastal Florida threatened by resort developers. The monologues which drive this classy ensemble piece are memorable, but the one-liners are souvenirs. Edie Falco’s character Maryl is a tough cookie whose daddy ‘wouldn’t sell if he had his nuts in a trash compacter’. His reticence frustrates real estate’s ‘frontal assault’ on her beachhead long enough for Maryl to have a dalliance with the idealistic architect of destruction played by Timothy Hutton.

Meanwhile, black residents raise a little token hell to delay being bulldozed from their beachfront.

Maryl’s faux-mermaid philosophy is ‘keep that smile on your face, even when you’re drowning’ – but using wood from a burnt-down juke joint to build a coffin wins best metaphor in an inspired script written in blood and sea salt.

While I was in Florida for the Bush coup about a million seagulls set down in unison over the oyster flats of Apalachicola. The scene recalled an Everglades guide who dismissed Yankees gawking at a solitary flamingo by recalling a time when there were so many (flamingoes, not Yankees) that they would blot out the sun. Sayles shows how humans have commoditized the planet in their Banana Republic – and only those who fight it derive meaning from their shallow lives.

Louise Gray

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 348 This column was published in the August 2002 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

Never miss another story! Get our FREE fortnightly eNews

Comments on Scattered People

Leave your comment


  • Maximum characters allowed: 5000
  • Simple HTML allowed: bold, italic, and links

Registration is quick and easy. Plus you won’t have to re-type the blurry words to comment!
Register | Login

...And all is quiet.

Subscribe to Comments for this articleArticle Comment Feed RSS 2.0

Guidelines: Please be respectful of others when posting your reply.

Scattered People Fact File
Product information by Various Artists
Product number RCSC CD
Star rating
Product link ">

Get our free fortnightly eNews


Videos from visionOntv’s globalviews channel.

Related articles

Recently in Music

All Music

Popular tags

All tags

This article was originally published in issue 348

New Internationalist Magazine issue 348
Issue 348

More articles from this issue

New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.

– Emma Thompson –

A subscription to suit you

Save money with a digital subscription. Give a gift subscription that will last all year. Or get yourself a free trial to New Internationalist. See our choice of offers.